Online Encyclopedia

SPAIN AND

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 517 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: del.icio.us del.icio.us it!
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL Modern Spanish painting began with Mariano Fortuny (q.v.), who, dying as long ago as 1874, nevertheless left his mark even on the following generation of artists. During his residence in Paris in 1866 he had been strongly influenced by Meissonier, and subsequently selected similar subjects—scenes in x8thcentury costume. In Fortuny, however, the French painter's elaborate finish is associated with something more intense and vivid, indicative of the southern Latin temperament. He collected in his studio in Rome the most artistic examples of medieval industry. The objects among which he lived he also painted with incisive spirit as a setting for elegant figures from the world of Watteau and of Goya, which are thrown into his pictures with amazing dash and sparkle; and this love of dazzling kaleidoscopic variety has animated his successors. Academic teaching tries to encourage historical painting. Hence, since the 'seventies, the chief paintings produced in Spain have been huge historical works, which have made the round of European exhibitions and then been collected in the Gallery of Modern Art at Madrid. There may be seen " The Mad Queen Juana," by Pradillr: ; " The Conversion of the Duke of Gandia," by Moreno Carbonero; " The Bell of Huesca," by Casado; " The Last Day of Numantia," by Vera; " Ines de Castro," by Cabello. It is possible, of course, to discern in the love of the horrible displayed in these pictures an element of the national character, for in the land of bull-fights even painting turns to murder and sudden death, poison and the rope. However, at least we must admit the great power revealed, and recognize the audacious colouring. But in point of fact these works are only variants on those executed in France from the time of Delaroche to Jean Paul Laurens, and tell their story in the style that was current in Parisian studios in the 'sixties. What is called the national garb of Spain is mainly the cast-off fashion of Paris. After all this magniloquent work Fortuny's rococo became the rage. The same painters who had produced the great historical pictures were now content to take up a brilliant and dazzling miniature style; either, like Fortuny himself, using small and motley figures in baroque subjects, or adapting the modern national life of Spain to the rococo style. Here again we observe the acrobatic dexterity with which the painters, Pradilla especially, use the brush. But here again there is nothing essentially new—only a repetition of what Fortuny had already done twenty years before. The Spanish school, therefore, presented a very old-fashioned aspect at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. The pictures shown there were mostly wild or emotional. Bedouins fighting, an antique quadriga flying past, the inhabitants of Pompeii hastily endeavouring to escape from the lava torrent, Don Quixote's Rosinante hanging to the sail of the windmill, and the terrors of the Day of Judgment were the subjects; Alvarez Dumont, Benlliure y Gil, Ulpiano Checa, Manuel Ramirez Ibanez and Moreno Carbonero were the painters. Among the huge canvases, a number of small pictures, things of no importance, were scattered, which showed only a genre-like wit. Spain is a somewhat barren land in modern art. There painting, although active, is blind to life and to the treasures of art which lie unheeded in the road. Only one artist, Agrasot, during the 'seventies painted pictures of Spanish low life of great sincerity; and much later two young painters appeared who energetically threw themselves into the modern movement. One was Sorolla y Bastida, by whom there is a large fishing picture in the Luxembourg, which in its stern gravity might be the work of a Northern painter; the other was Ignacio Zuloaga, in whom Goya seems to live again. Old women, girls of the people, and cocottes especially, he has painted with admirable spirit and with breadth. Spain, which has taken so little part in the great movement since Mallet's time, only repeating in old-fashioned guise things which are falsely regarded as national, seems at last topossess in Zuloaga an artist at once modern and genuinely national. Portugal took an almost lower place in the Paris Exhibition. For whereas the historical Spanish school has endeavoured to be modern to some extent, at least in colour, the Portuguese cling to the blue-plush and red-velvet splendours of Delaroche in all their crudity. Weak pictures of monks and of visions are produced in numbers, together with genre pictures depicting the popular life of Portugal, spiced to the taste of the tourist. There are the younger men who aim at availing themselves of the efforts of the open-air painters; but even as followers of the Parisians they only say now what the French were saying long years ago through Bastien-Lepage, Puvis de Chavannes and Adrien Dumont. There is always a Frenchman behind the Portuguese, who guides his brush and sets his model. The only painter formed in the school is Carlos Reis, whose vast canvas " Sunset " has much in common with the first huge peasant pictures painted in Germany by Count Kalckreuth. One painter there is, however, who is quite independent and wholly Portuguese, a worthy successor of the great old masters of his native land, and this is Columbano, whose portraits of actors have a spark of the genius which inspired the works of Velazquez and Goya. See A. G. Temple, Modern Spanish Painting (1908). (R. MR.) DENMARK Denmark resembles Holland in this: that in both, nature presents little luxury of emphasized colour or accentuated majesty of form. Broad flats are everywhere to be seen—vague, almost indefinable, in outline. Danish art is as demure and staid as the Danish landscape. As in Holland, the painters make no bold experiments, attempt no pretentious subjects, no rich colouring, nothing sportive or light. Like the Dutch, the Danes are somewhat sluggishly tranquil, loving dim twilight and the swirling mist. But Denmark is a leaner land than Holland, less moist and more thinly inhabited, so that its art lacks the comfortable self-satisfied character of Dutch art. It betrays rather a tremulous longing, a pleasing melancholy and delight in dreams, a trembling dread of contact with coarse and stern reality. It was only for a time, early in the 'seventies, that a touch of cosmopolitanism affected Danish art. The phase of grandiose historical painting and anecdotic genre was experienced there, as in every other country. In Karl Bloch (b. 1834), Denmark had a historical painter in some respects parallel with the German Piloty; in Axel Heisted (b. 1847), a genre painter reminding us of Ludwig Knaus. The two artists Laurits Tuxen (b. 1853) and Peter Kroyer (b. 1851), who are most nearly allied to Manet and Bastien-Lepage, have a sort of elegance that is almost Parisian. Kroyer, especially, has bold inventiveness and amazing skill. Open-air effects and twilight moods, the glare of sunshine and artificial light, he has painted with equal mastery. In portraiture, too, he stands alone. The two large pictures in which he recorded a " Meeting of the Committee of the Copenhagen Exhibition, 1887," and a " Meeting of the Copenhagen Academy of Sciences," are modern works which in power of expression may almost compare with those of Frans Hals. Such versatility and facile elegance are to be found in no other Danish painter. At the period of historic painting it was significant that next to Bloch, the cosmopolitan, came Kristian Zahrtmann (b. 1843), who painted scenes from the life of Eleonora Christina, a Danish heroine (daughter of Christian IV.), with the utmost simplicity, and without any emotional or theatrical pathos. This touching feeling for home and country is the keynote of Danish art. The Dane has now no sentiment but that of home; his country, once so powerful, has become but a small one, and has lost its political importance. Hence he clings to the little that is left to him with melancholy tenderness. Viggo Johansen (b. 1851), with his gentle dreaminess, is the best representative of modern Danish home-life. He shows us dark sitting-rooms, where a quiet party has met around the tea-table. " An Evening at Home," " The Christmas Tree," " Grandmother's Birthday," are typical subjects, and all have the same fresh and fragrant charm. He is. also one of the best Danish landscape painters. The silvery atmosphere and sad, mysterious stillness of the island-realm rest on Johansen's pictures. Not less satisfactory in their little world are the rest: Holsoe (b. 1866), Lauritz Ring (b. 1854), Haslund, Syberg (b. 1862), Irminger (b. 185o), and Ilsted paint the pleasant life of Copenhagen. In Skagen, a fishing town at the extreme end of Jutland, we find painters of sea life: Michael Ancher (b. 1849), Anna Ancher (b. 1859), and C. Locher (b. 1851). The landscape painters Viggo Pederson (b. 1854), Philipsen (b. 1840), Julius Paulsen (b. 186o), Johan Rohde (b. 1856) have made their home in the villages round Copenhagen. Each has his own individuality and sees nature with his own eyes, and yet in all we find the same sober tone, the same gentle, tearful melancholy. The new Idealism has, however, been discernible in Denmark. Joakim Skovgaard (b, 1856), with his " Christ among the Dead " and " Pool of Bethesda," is trying to endow Denmark with a monumental type of art. Harald Slott-Moller (b. 1864) and J. F. Willumsen (b.,1863) affect a highly symbolical style. But even more than these painters, who aim at reproducing ancient folk-tales through the medium of modern mysticism, two others claim our attention, by the infusion into the old tradition of a very modern view of beauty approaching that of Whistler and of Carriere: one is Ejnar Nielsen, whose portraits have a peculiar, refined strain of gentle Danish melancholy; the other, V. Hammershgj, who has an exquisite sense of tone, and paints the magical effect of light in half-darkened rooms. Among the more noteworthy portrait painters, Aug. Jerndorff and Otto Bache should be included; and among the more decorative artists, L. Frolich; while Hans Tegner may be considered the greatest illustrator of his day. (R. MR.) SWEDEN There is as great a difference between Danish and Swedish art as between Copenhagen and Stockholm. Copenhagen is a homely provincial town and life is confined to home circles. In Stockholm we find the whirl of life and all the elegance of a capital. It has been styled the Paris of the North, and its art also wears this cosmopolitan aspect. Dusseldorf, where in the 'sixties most painters studied their art, appeared to latter-day artists too provincial. Munich and, to a still greater extent, Paris became their " Alma Mater," Salmson (1843-1894) and Hagborg (b. 1852), who were first initiated into naturalism in Paris, adopted this city for a domicile. They paint the fishermen of Brittany and the peasants of Picardy; and even when apparently interpreting Sweden, they only clothe their Parisian models in a Swedish garb. Those who returned to Stockholm turned their Parisian art into a Swedish art, but they have remained cosmopolitan until this day. Whilst there is something prosy and homely about Danish art, that of Sweden displays nervous elegance and cosmopolitan polish. Simplicity is in her eyes humdrum; she prefers light and brilliant notes. There, a naturalness and simplicity allows us to forget the difficulties of the brush: here, we chiefly receive the impression of a cleverly solved problem. There, the greatest moderation in colour, a soft all-pervading grey: here, a cunning play with delicate tones and gradations—a striving to render the most difficult effects of light with obedient hand. This tendency is particularly marked in the case of the landscape painters: Per Ekstr6m (b. 1844), Niels Kreuger (b. 1858), Karl Nordstrom (b. 1865), Prince Eugen of Sweden (b. 1855), Axel Sj6berg Wallander (b. 1862), and Wahlberg (b. 1864). Nature in Sweden has not the idyllic softness, the veiled elegiac character, it displays in Denmark. It is more coquettish, southern and French, and the painters regard it also with French eyes. As a painter of animals, Bruno Liljefors (b. 186o) created a sensation by his surprising pictures. Whatever his subjects —quails, capercailzies, dogs, hares, magpies or thrushes—he has caught the fleetest motions and the most transitory effects of light with the cleverness of a Japanese. With this exception, the Swedish painters cannot be classified according to " subjects." They are " virtuosi," calling every technical aspect of art their own- -as well in • fresco as in portrait painting. Oscar Bj6rek(b. 186o), Ernst Josephson (b. 1851), Georg Pauli (b. 1855), Richard Bergh (b. 1858), Hanna Hirsch now Pauli (b. 1864) are the best-known names. Carl Larsson's (b. 1853) decorative panneaux fascinate by their easy lightness and coquettish grace of execution. Ander Zorn (b. 186o), with his dazzling virtuosity, is as typical of Swedish as the prosaic simplicity of Johansen is of Danish art. His marine pictures, with their undulating waves and naked forms bathed in light, belong to the most surprising examples of the cleverness with which modern art can stereotype quivering motions; and the same boldness in handling his subjects, which triumphs over difficulties, makes his " interiors, his portraits and etchings, objects of admiration to every painter's eye. In his " Dance before the Window " all is vivacity and motion. His portrait of a" Peasant Woman ". is a powerful harmony of sparkling yellow-red tones of colour. Besides these older masters who cleave to the most dazzling light effects, there are the younger artists of the school of Carl Larsson, who aspire more to decorative effects on a grander scale. Gustav Fjalstad (b. 1868) exhibited. a picture in the Paris Exhibition of 1900 that stood out like mosaic among its surroundings. And great similarity in method has Hermann Normann, who, as a landscape painter, also imitates the classic style. (R. MR.) NORWAY We enter a new world when in picture-galleries we pass to the Norwegian from the Swedish section. From the great city we are transported to nature, solemn and solitary, into a land of silence, where a rude, sparse population, a race of fishermen, snatches a scanty sustenance from the sea. The Norwegians also contributed for a time to the international market in works of art. They sent mainly genre pictures telling of the manners and customs of their country, or landscapes depicting the phenomena of Northern scenery. Adolf Tidemand (1814–1876) introduced his countrymen—the peasants and fishermen of the Northern coast—to the European public. We are introduced to Norwegian Christmas customs, accompany the Norseman on his nocturnal fishing expeditions, join the " Brudefaerd " across the Hardanger fjord, sit as disciples at the feet of the Norwegian sacristan. Ferdinand Fagerlin (b. 1825) and Hans Dahl are two other painters who, educated at Dusseldorf and settled in Germany, introduced the style of Knaus and Vautier to Norwegian art circles. Knud Badde (18o8–1879), Hans Gude (b. 1825), Niels Bjbrnsen Moller, Morten-Muller (b. 1828), Ludvig Munthe (1843–1896), and Adelsten Normann (b. 1848) are known as excellent landscape painters, who have faithfully portrayed the majestic mountain scenery and black pine forests of their native land, the cliffs that enclose the fjords, and the sparkling snowfields of the land of the midnight sun. But the time when actuality had to be well seasoned, and every picture was bound to have a spice of genre or the attraction of something out of the common to make it palatable, is past and gone. As early as the 'sixties Bjornson was president of a Norwegian society which made it its chief business to wage war against the shallow conventionalities of the Dusseldorf school. Ibsen was vice-president. In the works of the more modern artists there is not a single trace of Dusseldorf influence. Especially in the 'eighties, when naturalism was at its zenith, we find the Norwegians its boldest devotees. They portrayed, life as they found it, without embellishment; they did not trouble about plastic elegance, but painted the land of their home and its people in a direct, rough-hewn style. Like the people we meet in the North, giants with stalwart iron frames, callous hands, and sun-burnt faces, with their sou'-westers and blue blouses, who resemble sons of a bygone heroic age, have the painters themselves—notably Niels Gustav Wentzel (b. 1859), Svend Jorgensen (b. 1861), Kolstoe (b. 186o), Christian Krohg—something primitive in the directness, in, one might almost say, the barbarous brutality with which they approach their subjects. They preferred the most glaring effects of plein-air; they revelled in all the hues of the rainbow. But these very uncouth fellows, who treated the figures in their pictures with such rough directness, painted even in. those days landscapes with great refinement; not the midnight sun and the precipitous cliffs of the fjords,, by which foreigners were sought to be impressed, but austere, simple nature, as it lies in deathlike and spectral repose—lonely meres, whose surface is unruffled by the keel of any boat, where no human being is visible, where no sound is audible; the hour of twilight, when the sun has disappeared behind the mountains, and all is chill and drear; the winter, when an icy blast sweeps over the crisp snow-fields; the spring, almost like winter, with its bare branches and its thin young shoots. Such were their themes, and painters like Amaldus Nilsen (b. 1838), Eilif Petersen (b. 1852), Christian Skredsvig (b. 1854), Fritz Thaulow (b. 1848), and Gerhard Munthe (b. 1849) arrested public attention by their exhibition of pictures of this character. Latterly these painters have become more civilized, and have emancipated themselves from their early uncouthness. Jorgensen, Krohg, Kolstoe, Soot, Gustav Wentzel, no longer paint those herculean sailors and fishermen, those pictures of 'giants that formerly gave to Norwegian exhibitions their peculiar character. Elegance has taken possession of the Norwegian palette. This transformation began with Fritz Thaulow, and indeed his art threatened to relapse somewhat into routine, and even the ripples of his waters to sparkle somewhat coquettishly. Borgen (b. 1852), Hennig (b. 1871), Hjerl6w (b. 1863), and Stenersen (b: 1862) were gifted recruits of the ranks of Norwegian painters, whilst Halfdan Strom (b. 1863), who depicts rays of light issuing from silent windows and streaming and quivering over solitary landscapes, dark blue streams and ponds, nocturnal skies, variegated female dresses, contrasting as spots of colour with dark green meadows, has a delicacy in colouring that recalls Cazin. Gerhard Munthe, who, as we have seen, first made a name by his delicate vernal scenery, has turned his attention to the classical side of art; and, finally Erik Werenskjold (b. 1855), who was also first known by his landscapes and scenes of country life, afterwards gained success as an illustrator of Norwegian folk-lore. (R. MR.) Russia Until late in the 19th century modern Russian painting was unknown to western Europe. What had been seen of it in international exhibitions showed the traditions of primitive European art, with a distinct vein of barbarism. In the early 'fifties, painters were less bent on art than on political agitation; they used the brush as a means of propaganda in favour of some political idea. Peroff showed us the miserable condition 'of the serfs, the wastefulness and profligacy of the nobility. Vereschagin made himself the advocate of the soldier, painting the horrors of war long before the tsar's manifesto preached universal disarmament. Art suffered from this praiseworthy misapplication; many pictures were painted, but very few rose to the level of modern achievement in point of technique. It was only by the St Petersburg art journal Mir Iskustwa, and by a small exhibition arranged at Munich in 1892 by a group of Russian landscape painters, that it was realized that a younger Russian school had arisen, fully equipped with the methods of modern technique, and depicting Russian life with the stamp of individuality. At the Paris Exhibition of 1900 the productions of this young Russian school were seen with surprise. A florescence similiar to that which literature displayed in Pushkin, Dostoievsky and Tolstoy seemed to be beginning for Russian painting. Some of these young painters rushed into art with unbridled zest, painting with primitive force and boldness. They produced historical pictures, almost barbaric but of striking force; representations of the life of the people full of deep and hopeless gloom; the poor driven by the police and huddled together in dull indifference; the popes tramping across the lonely steppes, prayer-book in hand; peasants muttering prayers before a crucifix. There is great pathos in " The Karamasow Brothers," or " The Power of Darkness." At the same time we feel that a long-inherited tradition pervades all Russia. We find a characteristic ecclesiastical art, far removed from the productions of the fin de siecle, in which the rigid tradition of the Byzantines of the 3rd century still survives. And, finally, there are landscapes almost Danish in their bloodless, dreamy tenderness. Among the historical painters Elias Repin is the most impressive. In his pictures, " Ivan the Cruel," " The Cossacks' Reply to the Sultan," and "The Miracle of Saint Nicholas," may be seen—what is so rare in historical painting—genuine purpose and style. Terror is rendered, with Shakespearean power; the boldness with which he has reconstituted the past, and the power of pictorial psychology which has enabled him to give new life to his figures, are equally striking in " Sowing on the Volga " and " The Village Pro-cession." He was the first to paint subjects of contemporary life, and the work, while thoroughly Russian, has high technical qualities—the sense of oppression, subjection and gloom is all-pervading. But he does not " point the moral," as Peroff did; he paints simply but sympathetically what he sees, and this lends his pictures something of the resigned melancholy of Russian songs. Even more impressive than Repin is Philippe Maliavine. He had rendered peasants, stalwart figures of powerful build; and, in a picture called " Laughter," Macbeth-like women, wrapped in rags of fiery red, are thrown on the canvas with astonishing power. Among religious painters Victor Vasnezov, the powerful decorator of the dome in the church of St Vladimir at Kiev, is the most distinguished figure. These paintings seem to have been executed in the very spirit of the Russian church; blazing with gold, they depend for much of their; effect upon barbaric splendour. But Vasnezov has painted other things: "The Scythians," fighting with lance and battle-axe; horsemen making their way across the pathless steppe; and woods and landscapes pervaded by romantic charm, the home of the spirits of Russian legend. Next to Vasnezov is Michael Nesterov, a painter also of monks and saints, but as different from him as Zurbaran from the mosaic workers of Venice; and Valentin Serov, powerful in portraiture and fascinating in his landscape. It is to be remarked that although these artists are austere and unpolished in their figure-painting, they paint landscape with delicate refinement. Schischkin and Vassiliev were the first to paint their native land in all simplicity, and it is in landscape that Russian art at the present time still shows its most pleasing work. Savrassov depicts tender spring effects; Kuindshi light birch-copses full of quivering light; Sudkovski interprets the solemn majesty of the sea; Albert Benois paints in water-colour delicate' Finnish scenery; Apollinaris Vasnezov has recorded the dismal wastes of Siberia, its dark plains and endless primeval forest, with powerful simplicity. A special province in Russian art must be assigned to the Poles. It, is difficult indeed to share to the full the admiration felt in Warsaw for the Polish painters. It is there firmly believed that Poland has a school of its own, owing nothing to Russia, Austria or Germany; an art which embodies all the chivalry and all the suffering of that land. The accessories are Polish, and so are the costumes. Jan Chelminski, Wojcliech Gerson, Constantine Gorski, Apolonius Kendzrierski, Joseph Ryszkievicz and Roman Szvoinicki are the principal artists. We see in their pictures a great deal of fighting, a great deal of weeping; but what there is peculiar to the Poles in the expression or technique of their works it is hard to discover. Finland, on the other hand, is thoroughly modern. Belonging by descent to Sweden rather than to Russia, its painters' views of art also resemble those of the " Parisians of the North." They display no ungoverned power, but rather supple elegance. The play of light and the caprice of sunshine are rendered with much subtlety. Albert Edelfeldt is the most versatile artist of the group; Axel Gallen, at first naturalistic, developed into a decorative artist of fine style; Eero Jaernefelt charms with his airy studies and brilliant landscapes. Magnus Enckell; Pekka Halonen and Victor Vesterholm sustain the school with work remarkable for sober and tasteful feeling. (R. Mx.)
End of Article: SPAIN AND
[back]
SPAIN (Espana)
[next]
GEORGE SPALATIN

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.