Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Better in Reproduction Than on Canvas?

Perhaps the most talented Catalonian realist artist, vintage 1900, was Ramón Casas i Carbó (1866-1932). His Wikipedia entry is here and a short biography with many illustrations posted by Matthew Innis is here. (Not all the posted art is by Casas. Some posters by others are fairly easy to spot, but a painting ("Granadina") by Hermen Anglada Camarasa is grouped with some by Casas, so there is a chance that other non-Casas work crept in.)

When I finally was able to visit the Barcelona area this fall, I was geared up to view as many works by Casas and other Catalonian painters as I could -- the main sites being the museum at Montserrat and the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona.

The Casas painting I most wanted to see was Antes del baño (1894 or 1895) in the Montserrat museum -- it's the painting shown above. However, the museum's placement of it was, shall I say, unfortunate. It was near a corner where one couldn't quite view it head-on. Moreover, it wasn't properly lighted. All that aside, the painting struck me was looking flatter and more thinly-painted than I had anticipated.

These last two defects cropped up in other -- but not all -- Casas paintings I came across; the ones in Barcelona tended to be richer. The result is that while I still regard Casas as an excellent draftsman, I'm not quite as impressed by his paintings as I was before viewing them in person.

This is odd: normally the real painting is better than any reproduction of it.

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