Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Echoes of History

Echoes of Roncesvalles (1890) by the Spanish painter Antonio Muñoz Degrain (1840-1924).

This painting refers to the battle of Roncesvalles in 778, where Charlemagne's rear guard was annihilated by the Basques. But it’s far more than the typical pseudo-realistic battle painting.

Muñoz Degrain became well known for his traditional history paintings. But later he moved to impressionism, which changed not only his way of painting but also his view on history.
Although there is a canyon with skeletons to be seen, this is obviously not Roncesvalles or at least no realistic depiction of it. The impressionist Muñoz Degrain is not interested in this. History is no portrayable, it’s covered by myths and legends. And because of that he painted only the echoes - the impression.

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