Oct 27, 2016

The Light of a City II

Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba

Selected works from the nineteenth and twentieth century in the Museum of Córdoba

The sleeping city
A new impetus from outside woke the city from its slumber in the early nineteenth century. The "romantic travelers", with their interest in ancient ruins, local customs, and the Andalusian past, revived interest in the city both artistically and intellectually.

The Scot David Roberts was one of the romantic travelers who passed through Córdoba. His watercolors, full of monuments and local color, were printed and disseminated throughout Europe.

Alfred Guesdon made this lithograph from a new viewpoint; a hot air balloon. The chimney of the hat factory in the Plaza de la Corredera stands out.

Based on a print, this "A View of Córdoba" canvas is not exempt of certain fantastic elements that emphasize the romantic nature of these cities with their monumental past but decadent present.

This genre painting, with typical scenes and local color, would become the main theme with which the halls of the bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century were decorated.

Romero Barros, who painted this piece, has spared no detail in faithfully representing a "Sunday on the banks of the Guadalquivir."

Turn of the century, from Realism to Preciosismo
In the mid-nineteenth century social revolutions changed the way art was perceived. It became more sensitive, more social, and in particular it had a great freedom in the subjects it handled. In Córdoba a turning point came with the creation of a School of Fine Arts with the painter Rafael Romero Barros at its head, a role which he also held at the Provincial Museum. It was there that Rafael's sons, Enrique and Julio Romero de Torres, studied together with Tomás Muñoz Lucena and Mateo Inurria. They also came to study in Rome and Paris thanks to scholarships from the provincial government.

In 1862, Rafael Romero Barros became curator of the Provincial Museum of Paintings. He was educated in Seville, where he took in the landscapes of Manuel Barrón and the intellectualism of the time.

His painting has a strong element of realism, with still life being his main strength.

This piece has great symbolic meaning. In it, oranges are shown in different forms or states: flower, fruit, opened in wedges, peeled, in juice, and in syrup.

Worthy of note in the museum collection is this sketch by Mariano Fortuny, the leading proponent of preciosismo in Spain.

This composition by Rafael Romero de Torres highlights the interest in social themes at the time.

In the foreground is a builder who has just suffered a fatal accident and is lying semiconscious on cushions and mattresses.

The priest is about to deliver the Extreme Unction, the last of the Christian sacraments. The characters represent the seriousness and helplessness of the tragic event.

In the background the pain and the horror of the builder's wife and children, resigned to the fateful event, is clear.

During his training in Rome, Rafael Romero de Torres wrote to his family with these beautiful illustrated letters in which he shows off his drawing skills.

Another of the graduates of the School of Fine Arts was Tomás Muñoz Lucena. During his formative stay in Rome he was to produce this piece, where loose brushstrokes dominate the scene.

Julio Romero de Torres's beginnings are closely entwined with the influence of the modernism and luminism of Sorolla, which influenced his early work like this piece.

The courtyard of the Romero de Torres family home is the space chosen. This piece is characterized by a strong backlight and rich and colorful vegetation.

As a model he used his own wife, Francisca Pellicer, who embodies here what his brother and writer, Julio Pellicer, called "Andalusian Laziness".

Woman as a symbol
The twentieth century was characterized by diversity in every respect, but running throughout is the triumphant theme of Women. The so-called Silver Age of Spanish art, of which Julio Romero de Torres or Mateo Inurria were a part, was responsible for reviving the visual or artistic language as it sought new forms of expression influenced by European vanguards.

"Lovesick" by Julio Romero de Torres is a first step towards the symbolism that he was ultimately defined by. It is a metaphor for the different ages of women with a tragic undercurrent.

In the foreground the protagonist, a young woman who turns to the viewer with a sad gaze. She is in the shade, pained and serious, as if time has stood still in her gaze.

In the background, an older woman, representing experience, looking resignedly at the lovelorn young girl.

Unconscious, asleep, is a girl in the lap of the older woman. She sleeps without knowing the lovesickness she may suffer in the future.

The early twentieth century was the golden age of illustrators. Lozano Sidro was to do many like this for the newspapers of the time, specializing in representing high society and often including subtle criticisms.

Undoubtedly Inurria is someone who dealt with the sensuality of the female body in his sculptures. Represented in this symbolic work is a Mediterranean woman with rounded form, carrying a bunch of grapes.

Sensuality, eroticism, and complicity are ideas which can be used to define the women in this Romero de Torres piece. Unlike in previous works, here the author has fully embraced symbolism.

"Chrysalis", "coquetry", and "Pomegranate Flower" form the series of "The Ages of Women", which Inurria synthesized while focusing on the physical changes of women; girl - adolescent - adult.

Adolescence is presented in the aspect of vanity. It is the beginning of "coquetry", which has its best ally in a mirror.

The mature woman is confident in her body and her sensuality, and also has the capacity to bring forth new life. To symbolize this idea she holds in her hand a cracked pomegranate which is bursting with fruit.

Huertas Diaz, another illustrator, who came up with the name for the ABC weekly publication "Black and White", depicts a powder room scene with great taste and delicacy. Everything is perfectly in place except for the shoes.

Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba
Credits: Story

The light of a city II

Organised by:
Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba
Consejería de Cultura de la Junta de Andalucía

Curated by: Manuel Aguayo Marmolejo.
Texts: Manuel Aguayo Marmolejo.
Photography: Álvaro Holgado, Manuel Pijuán y Google Art Camera.
Digital Edition: Manuel Aguayo Marmolejo.

Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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