Friday, October 5, 2012

Schmalz[y] Art

Occasionally visitors to Andalusia ask us about the painting in Flannery's room by Robert Hood.  On Tuesday, however, someone asked me about the picture in the upstairs guest room.  I must admit that I drew a blank, mainly because I hadn't been upstairs in a while and thus had a hard time recalling it.  After this visitor left, I ran upstairs to take a look at the painting she was referring to.  I then did a Google search and discovered that our picture is a print of the painting, Return from Calvary, by the relatively unknown British artist, Gustave Schmalz. Relatively unknown among Pre-Raphaelite painters, Schmalz's art is characterized by an overwrought emotionalism that some, with our jaded 21st-century sensibilities, find repugnant.  Be that as it may, Schmalz's work was quite popular in its day.  He was born in England in 1856, the son of a German father and English mother.  He received his art training at the South Kensington School of Art and later at the Royal Academy of Arts.  He studied with Frank Dicksee, Stanhope Forbes, and Arthur Hacker.  He then went to Antwerp to perfect his style of conventional history painting.  After a trip to Jerusalem in 1890, Schmalz created a series of paintings with New Testament themes, Return from Calvary (1891) being his best known piece.  In the late 1890s Schmalz switched to painting portraits.  In 1900 an exhibition of his work was held at the Fine Art Society on Bond Street in London.  He was friends with other English artists including William Holman Hunt, Val Prinsep, and Frederic Leighton.  After Germany was defeated in World War I, Schmalz changed his name to John Wilson Carmichael.  He continued to be active in London until his death in 1935. 
- Mark

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