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.