Monday, May 5, 2008

Slovakia through the lenses of Victorian era (beware: art history lesson)

Long time ago I came across these pictures on the internet but I cannot find the site anymore. That way I apologize to its author that I borrowed his images without a permission. They are by a couple of painters Marianne Stokes who was Austrian by the origin, married to the English Adrian Stokes. They traveled to Slovakia and Hungary in 1905 and surmised their paintings in the book called after the latter, Hungary.

I was quite amazed by these as they depict something I have known so far only through images of local painters and photographers, whose style, however professional, realistic and emotional, has nothing in common with this coloring and dignity that so much resembles of Victorian painting in the 19th century Britain. Also the poverty and misery in the eyes of the girls is something that seemed to escape the most of the local artists' attention, as far as I can say. They were interested in their costumes, crafts, rituals, all this newly discovered ethnographic stuff, but the social side of this living had not become the theme yet. Anyway, Marianne Stokes has some of it there, and that is what probably strikes most at these paintings, the way the 19th century was able to give the poverty such an elegance.

Of course, it was part of the fashion painting of the time, which had to do with the likeness of ethnography, images of poor life in country would not sell. Anyway, enjoy the paintings, the life with handmade clothes and self-supplying garden might be like that again.


raining sheep said...

You know what I love about these paintings is that they depict poor women in a domestic setting. You don't see that very often in paintings of women - usually they are models posing or rich women who commissioned a piece of work. I love seeing women doing what they did on a daily basis: carrying wood or taking care of animals.

Bohemian girl said...

That's right, it is a good documentary. Talking about models posing it reminds me of this painting called Poor Country by Max Švabinský. The girl was the painter's wife who wasn't by any means a peasant girl and not only that, the little hill she is sitting on is a build up construction for the scene! So the locals passing by could see the scaffolded hill from behind and were wondering what for the God's sake those Prague people are doing there.

Anonymous said...

To me they appear idealised, like Ford Madox Brown's paintings of workers and emigrants.

Bohemian girl said...

Yes, idealized, that is what I meant.

Vychodna said...

The library of the University of Wisconsin has the original book published in 1909.
Hungary. Stokes, Adrian & Marianne.
Check this out: