miércoles, 17 de mayo de 2017
A LA GORRA || Christa Zaat
Jakub Schikaneder (Czech painter) 1855 - 1924
A Street Corner in Prague, ca. 1900-10
oil on canvas
105 x 84 cm. (41.25 x 33 in.)
signed J Schikaneder lower left
Catalogue Note Sotheby's
Painted circa 1900-1910 in Prague's Old Town, the present work epitomises Schikaneder's atmospheric nocturnes of the city and its environs, characterised by a sense of poetic mysticism with isolated light sources punctuating the all-enveloping twilight. A contemporary of James McNeill Whistler and Vilhelm Hammershøi, with whose work the present oil can be compared, Schikaneder was a prime exponent of Symbolist expression pervading Europe at the turn of the century.
Born in 1855, Schikaneder's grandfather had established the family in the Bohemian capital in the early nineteenth century and it was here that the painter was raised, immersed in Czech and German cultures as well as a highly artistic milieu. His grandfather Emanuel was a well-known singer, actor, composer and playwright; his paternal great-uncle composed the libretto for Mozart’s opera ‘The Magic Flute’, while his mother’s brother was a painter who died while Jakub was in his infancy.
During the 1880s and 1890s Schikaneder established himself in his early days as a painter of genre. But the brooding, melancholy mood that often pervaded these early works carried through into the more diffuse nocturnes for which he is now most highly regarded, such as the present painting, which is so typical of these twilight views. The mood conveyed has strong resonances with Czech fin de siècle literature of the period, including the novels of Franz Kafka, and in its ambiguous quiet anticipates the work of such later twentieth century painters as Edward Hopper.
Schikaneder withdrew from public life at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century and no longer exhibited his paintings. His studio was only open to a small group of friends and collectors, such as the physician and author Josef Thomayer, the lawyers Leopold Katz and Josef Šafařík, pharmacist Karel Vostřebal, and Prague mayor Josef Rotnágl, the first owner of the present work.
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Schikaneder combined his robust social feeling and knowledge of contemporary European painting in an original manner in many paintings depicting women in hardship, old age and poverty. Schikaneder's best known artworks are the Prague nocturnes, a harmonious combination of the paintings' theme (of human fate) and structure. The painter lived in seclusion as of 1910 and no longer displayed his paintings in public. At that time, he was painting deserted interiors, a lesser-known part of his oeuvre. A trip to the northern coast of Germany and Helgoland Island in 1922 inspired Schikaneder to paint vistas of the coastline, piers, lighthouses and harbour lanes, which represent the last phase of his career.