Gonzaga Duque: a Critic in the Museum

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Gonzaga Duque: a Critic in the Museum
For many years in Brazil, art criticism was practiced in articles published in the press. In our country in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, books dedicated to a critical analysis of the art and artists who worked here were rare. One of the main intellectuals of this period, who practiced art criticism regularly as a profession, was the Carioca Luiz Gonzaga Duque Estrada (1863–1911). Intuitive, as well as knowledgeable about the artistic trends of the time, his is the most faithful portrayal we have of this formative period of our visual arts. The exhibition presents works belonging to the collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts accompanied by comments by Gonzaga Duque, one of the most brilliant and intuitive art critics in Brazil.

"Jacob's Departure", Rodolfo Amoedo
The Departure of Jacob has a touching simplicity that penetrates our souls and makes us remember the sweet Bible’s passage about the elected of the Lord.

His resources of arts build a scene in a way that has never been seen before. It shows us Jacob and his humble condition, in front of a hut,

receiving a kiss from his careful mother.

At the nightfall. The dew falls, and in a beautiful sky of diluted opals, the crescent moon shines.

The maternal arm stretches forward to bless the son.

The folds were open and the flock of sheep gathers up with the usual shout of the shepherd. There is a bless everywhere – the express untranslatable of thing that whishes the glory of this eternal day.

"Bad News" , Rodolfo Amoedo
attested to the exceptional qualities of the master, his vigorous painting, the wonderful sureness of his drawing, the cleanness of his colors, and the expressive power of his art

because this beautiful woman, with her beautiful dress and even more beautiful eyes, moist with tears and devilishly black, is an evident female soul, a wonderful snapshot a heart's torment

the letter, crumpled in her elegant ladylike grasp, sign of a contradicted goddess, who has just been wounded

Arrufos, Belmiro de Almeida

Our artists have been primarily interested in historical subjects, but in dealing with them, they have not concerned themselves with the period customs of the characters in the composition of these canvases. Belmiro was the first, because he breaks with precedents, is innovative, and interprets a new subject clearly according to the art of his time. This is a serious question here—not so much a predilection than of a real aesthetic transformation.

The painter, disregarding historical subjects to deal with domestic topics,

forcefully shows that he understands the requirements of modern societies and knows that the concern of today's philosophers is humanity represented by that single force immune to the iconoclastic blows of ridicule, the strongest, the highest, the loveliest of institutions - family.

"Fruits", Estevão Silva

There are no fading, soft tones, sentimentality, and blurring effects here;

look at the fruits that appear on the canvas, the creative contact of the brush strokes—the vivid, but almost simple, colors and, above all, the striking effect of the separation of the intense reds of cashews and vibrant yellows of mangoes. It must be your soul, you must have these rough visions, noisy with wild coloring, your fantasy [...]

The warm, intense color of the fruits grouped together in the darkness of the shadows gives the paintings, even the small ones, an aspect of crudeness that dominates and destroys the velvety softness and voluptuous delicacy with which some specimens of tropical nature were treated [ ...]

"View of Rome", Agostinho da Motta

Taken from nature, it is a work of inestimable value for its precision of touch, and poetic combination of color.

In the foreground, at the edge of a stream, two young girls, well posed, contemplate the vast scenery of Rome, while resting from the sun.

The ancient city of the Caesars, that sturdy Rome of heroic times, so viewed, so historicized, and so prostituted, rests in the background, wrapped in a bluish cloak of mists under a wide, orange, but melancholy sky.

The crumbling amphitheater,

St. Peter's dome, and the spires dominate the vast and sinuous plain of roofs. From a distance, raised up to the sky, blurred in the dubious clarity of twilight, they seem to be searching in space for the glorious history of their past.

"The Fig Tree", Facchinetti

Nicolau Facchinetti was able to dedicate himself to his love of art thanks to the favorable acceptance he received. Gradually, he became closer to nature, giving his work greater fidelity, almost to the level of a botanical print. The tones of his colors improved: He entered, as studio jargon would describe it, into the colors of our sunsets, our greens…

Oréadas, Eliseu Visconti

Interpreting the subject of such a remote creation, the artist tried to give it the characteristic tone, to do it in a gentle reconstruction of the classical feelings with the resources of contemporary technique. It combined the naive expressiveness of the motif, which we feel to be communicating with us, with the intoxication of a perfume exhaled by the graceful and decorous figures in the old way.

Gioventú, Eliseu Visconti

This Gioventú was awarded the coveted silver medal of the Universal Exhibition of 1900 along with the Dance of the Oréadas. The chaste beauty that we observe in the dance, the expressiveness of the highlighted blond girl, who moral orthodoxy has not desexualized with misplaced decorum. That striking chaste beauty that moistens our pupils with tenderness, is even more moving in this lovely Pre-Raphaelite pose that transfixes us. She seems abstract, timid, as if dazed by the splendor of the life burning in her slender bust of a child becoming an adolescent.

"Bacantes en festa", Rodolfo Chambelland

This is an open air scene showing much skill and significant artifice—a pardonable device in the face of the immense difficulty that an artist finds in our land to obtain models for a varied composition such as this.

Indeed, such subjects, when they are not commended by the beauty of nudes or eminent originality of composition, quickly fall into ridicule. That is to say, it is understood how much work the young artist put into the making of his new picture, and hence the excuse for the artifice used in its appeal, which is evident in the visible transformation of the female model into several types,

and the male model totally lacking in elegance and flexibility. [...]

The same artifice is repeated in the composition of bacchantes stretching along the field, in which the impossibility of being naked in the open air forced the artist not only to falsify the color tones, but to blur the bodies in the distance into one uniform mass. However, its composition deserves praise for the graceful distancing of the serpentine line

and the excellent contrasting effect of the shade to the foreground with the lightness of the secondary planes. The figures, touched by color, are very lively and expressive; the landscape is vast and illuminated, conveying the fresh impression of the day; the happy prospects, the clear, bright sky.

The landscape is vast and illuminated, conveying the fresh impression of the day; The prospects happy, the sky clear and bright.

"Figure of a Woman", Artur Lucas

Arthur Lucas is a handsome man diverted from his natural course in life by fate. A painter, and painter by temperament, he became a caricaturist and illustrator because the genre promised him a living. But his innate quality as a colorist and great vocation for the palette was latent and at times he broke through obstacles of time and commitment in order to express himself in beautiful imaginative panels, in a gentle fantasy of colors and shapes […].

On a uniform purple background, a woman's head stands out, of a dreamy, almost ideal gentleness. A brunette in profile, but of that faint brown of fading magnolias. From the dark crown of her warm brown hair hangs a transparent veil, which envelops her in a mist and all her bust, feather-light, is covered by a thin light fabric in soft tones of white and gray, harmonizing with the sentimental hesitancy of her countenance, revealed

by the gesture of the hand on the rib of the fan.

"Cataplum," 1907, Mariano Barbasán Lagueruela

Mr. Barbasán Lagueruela is extraordinary and admirable! Cataplum! ...do you know what it is, gentlemen?

It is a small village street in Italy, I believe. Lots of rubbish,

lots of chicken and lots of roosters...

The day is beautiful, a glorious day, glorious day, as the English would say, and the smart Mr V of Paiz; the sun is hot, the sky is burnished, the strange foliage of strange bushes is metalized, the stone and mortar of the house is shaken in vibrations.

A little girl, already entering adolescence, carries a pan on her way home; but, due to her mischievousness or carelessness, she is not paying attention to where she's going, and, at a certain moment,

cataplum ... she falls suddenly in the dung heap on the street. She shakes her legs, thrashes about, and screams, distraught at her fall and more upset about the loss of the potatoes, which will cost her, we might guess, a good spanking, if not a more severe thrashing.

The younger siblings who followed her, not knowing what to do, are astonished at the scene,

while hens, roosters, and chicks, alarmed by the shouting, scuttle to every corner, clucking in distress.

There you have what I was able to translate as the Cataplum of Mr. Barbasán Lagueruela, a comic strip of just over a hand span. So, in terms of the subject and the painting, it is known that the admirable Mr. Barbasán Lagueruela has a wonderful palette and his brush strokes are as fine as a cushion pin, with the skill of a Boldini, or the famous Meissonier, who had the ability to contemplate their work and to produce a very realistic image. And, no matter how small the detail, he captures it perfectly.

The head of one of the children is smaller than a newborn's thumbnail, but it is treated with such detail that it has eyelashes. However, the overall impression of the brilliant comic is not damaged by the excess of minutiae because there is absolute precision in the tones and the neatness of the colors.

Eternal Struggle, José Otávio Correia Lima

In the "Eternal Struggle," inspired by the humble life of rural workers, the movement of the diggers does not have the muscular contortion of the sturdy workers of Constantin Meunier, who made the hard labor of the poor and oppressed a subject for sculpture, without using the conventions and restrictions of those who previously attempted to reproduce the laborer.

The action of Mr. Correia Lima's peasant is in the rhythmic effort of burying the shovel in the ground, using, as farm labourers do, the weight of the foot on the top of the spade to push it in deeper

As a rhythmic effort the movement is moderate, and in spite of the care with which he modeled the figure out of clay with magnificent workmanship and the observation with which he reproduced the motion, the strained faces and contorted bodies are not obvious. He does not lose, however, the expressive naturalness of his representative figure.

"Eça de Queiroz", Antonio Teixeira Lopes In this work by Teixeira Lopes, as in that of all creators that merit the veneration of great artists, the components are closely linked and so strike us with the precise feelings in the expressions, and fascinate and dazzle us at the same time, by the skill of the thumbnail drawings of a rare sureness by the smoothness and gentleness, and from the scuffing and nervous dabbing of the sketchers, indicating the high level of their visual training and steady pulse. [...] And if you would, gentlemen, take a look at the bust of the beloved Eça de Queiroz, the same I believe, that served as the beautiful monumental sculpture of the Quintela square in Lisbon. [...]

See how the fine ironic smile of his mouth, imbued by modern skepticism, crystallizes the typical minutia, and admirably recalls the elegance and devilishness of the cheerful worldly philosopher.

See this smiling and caustic look and how in the right eye socket there is a habitual groove, as if allowing us to perceive the foppish monocle of the petulant inquirer into other's souls! The bust is an exact portrait because the spirituality that gives it life shines through the precise physical delineation.

The former Germans, Klixto (Calixto Cordeiro)

His caricature is in the bizarreness of the line, even pretending to hilariously distort the structure. Abstracting any intentionality, which may be claimed, it is made whole in the greater or lesser dexterity of the drawer's hand. It is made to be seen, the gaiety of the form has a charm.

Nothing, however, has been lost with this choice, since his drawing, though not always satisfying fair academic rigor, becomes one of the most precious pages of illustrations and in the most well-regarded print magazines.

Figure of woman by Rodolfo Amoedo
"Professor Amoedo's predilection for modernism and elegant femininity in watercolor is accentuated [...]

In all [the works], however, his way of using watercolor can not be confused with that of others, it is original. This master does not daub, finishing his watercolors with the same care that he gives to his valuable oil paintings.

This gives his work a certain charm, coming from a delicacy of touch which is not applied in patches, but is diffused and combined smoothly without forcefulness."

Credits: Story

Gonzaga Duque: Um crítico de arte no museu

Realizada no Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

De 09 de outubro a 30 de novembro de 2008

Pedro Martins Caldas Xexéo

Credits: All media
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