Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Colossus of Rhodes

The Colossus of Rhodes (1914) by the Spanish painter Antonio Muñoz Degrain (1840-1924). When he painted this Muñoz Degrain had long moved to impressionism and done several journeys to Turkey, Syria and Egypt. So the painting is less a historical but much more a reflection about light and life in the Near East.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Art Nouveau Knight

A knight errant from the beginning of the 20th century by the Austrian painter Erwin Stolz (1896-1987).

Maybe he represents Sir Galahad searching the Holy Grail. In the best Art Nouveau manner the painting reduces perspective and colors but is instead full of symbols like the divine light from above or the wild geese an old icon for wandering adventurers,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Classical Barbarians

The Death of Viriathus the chief of the Lusitanians (1807) by the Spanish painter José de Madrazo y Agudo (1781-1859).

Viriathus was the most important leader of the Lusitanian when they resisted Roman expansion into the regions of Western Hispania, today Portugal. Viriathus fought with great success against the Romans until he was betrayed to the Romans and killed in138 BC.

So it’s not astonishing that Viriathus was discovered in the 19th century by the patriots of Portugal and Spain as a kind of early national hero fighting foreign oppressors like Napoleon in their present days. But surprising is at least the fact that Madrazo depicted the barbarian chieftain and his followers as Greek or Romans. The whole painting resembles a lot the “Oath of the Horatii” (1784) by David. The explanation is that Madrazo was a pupil of David in Paris. And as the Lusitanians are looking like their Roman enemies, the Spanish patriot painted like his French adversaries.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On The Way To Destiny

Wallensteins on his way to Eger (c.1861/62) by the German painter Karl Theodor von Piloty (1826–1886).

Piloty was the leading German history painter of the late 19th century. Here he depicted the most important General of the Catholic League during the Thirty Years War. Wallenstein on the peak of his power was on his way to Eger. There he planned to start peace negotiations on his own but was murdered by some of his officers.

It was this vicinity of power and failure, the fall from great height what Piloty fascinated. There is a mighty army moving, but in front are already waiting the gravediggers – looks like a quotation of Hamlet.