In other part of this blog some evidences of the relationship of the develoment of Hungarian Szecesszio influences from the British Art and Crafts movement were outlined. In particular, since the exhibition, due in 1900, of the british painter and book illuminator Walter Crane those influences became very relevant and characterized mostly of the work of severla hungarian secessionist artist (Sandor Nagy) particularly as far as the book illustration was concerned. Those influences cohabited with other sources which eventually insipred the work of the Hungarian Szecesszio (influences, for example, of the austrian Secessionist movement as well as Wiener Werkstaette on the work of Kozma Lajos, as noted in a very recent post, are noticeable).
In this article, influences of the pre-Art and Craft movement (hitherto with strong relationship with this) named Pre-Raphaelite, after the artists brotherhood who constituted the movement itself, on the Hungarian painter Aladar Körösfői-Kriesch were outlined. As an example, two works of Aladar Körösfői-Kriesch will be examined. The two paintings refer to the so called "Cicle of Klara" and dated 1911. they both are actually in the National Hungarian Museum of Budapest and the picture here presented were taken in the room of the Museum.
Both the paintings related to the history of Klara Zach, In this work of Körösfői-Kriesch, as on the big-format paintings, titled: Zách Klára, and on his goblein (woman with a rose) the figure of Zách Klára is an innocently killed, suffering womans are illustrated, whom refused a God, and a highness (Kasszandra Apollő -the brother of Zách Klára) ‘s love.
The nudity symbolizes the innocence and the vulnerability of the heroes, pre-destinated to fall. The future of both suffering women are intertwines with the destruction of their city/country. Kasszandra symbolizes tragedy of Troy, Zách Klára symbolizes the tragedy of Hungary.
Basically, the theme itself could also typical of the Pre-Raphaelitism, since for the brotherhood Renaissance epic constituted one of the main influencing streams. The human characters, mainly female (as per the preraphaelite …) were dressed with traditional clothing, even if here seems that Korosfoi was inspired more from the Italian Renaissance rather than the tradition of his own Hungarian homeland.
Redhair girls are prominent in those two paintings as well as in several works of the Pre-Raphaelite. The following are respectively masterpieces of Edmund Blair Leighton (God Speed, 1900) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Lady Lilith, 1968; The Bowder Meadow, 1871-72; The blessed Damozel, 1878)
All those paintings are inspired by late medieval themes and aesthetics. However, some noticeable differences are noticeable between the paintings of Rossetti and the two of Korosfoi. Basically, I would refer to such differences as related to the role of the woman. In Rossetti, woman still was characterized with ephemeral sight, with a sort of absence in her own eyes, lack of intellectual related activities. Woman in Rossetti painting are like puppets, even beautiful and fascinating, but who seem completely disoriented (in a way they have some similarities with some "Beveuse d’Absrynth" portrayed in some of the turn of the century french area paintings)without any evidence of autonomous (nor actual) thought . On the contrary, female characters in the painting of Kriesch are, on the contrary, really noticeable. Both the Kresch paintings show two group of female characters and, in every case, the feelings and attitude of the characters themselves are quite noticeable, without any doubt.l
Eyes and expressions of the faces are more than just outlined in those paintings. Feelings like joy, superb, envy, sadness, … are absolutely well evident in the lines of the faces. Obviously even women acting on the main scene are well characterized as well :
No doubts, even for Kriesch the late Middle age was a source of inspiration. But the symbolism of the Hungarian painter has some different peculiarities if related to the older Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The woman for the British movement was a symbol mainly for the inner, obscure and mainly unknown forces which rule the Nature in the whole. Feminine was a symbol for a fierce, outstanding and still dangerous force which can represent a threat or a menace for human beings. The woman of Kriesch is conceived having a much more complicated character and, as a consequence, symbolism of the feminine itself is much more complex. The females here preserve sensual character, which was even a topic for the British brotherhood (think, as an example, to the red lips of Rossetti’s portraits). and, even, some of the character in the Kriesch painting show a menacing attitude. However the feminine is beaten, till the death of Klara in the last scene, and by male (the soldier) human figure; and she are in deep sadness as well, desperation which, however, doesn’t seem to be characterized by an inner fragility of the weaker sex, as per the former century tradition.
Kriesch’s female characters, in a word, are living beings, not merely beautiful puppets, thus reflecting the changing paradigm of the feminine which characterized the art at the end of the century and the art within the Hungarian Szecesszio in particular. Again, the feminine hasn’t at all the ethereal aspect of the woman in the late Renaissance nor the adorable virginal beauty and attitude of the female figures sang by late medieval cavalry epics. Kriesch females have complex characters, different attitude and they act in the scene in an unpredictable non-taxonomical way.
Symbolizing Hungary, Kriesch’s Cicle of Klara shows a feminine who is beaten by some evil and stronger forces but who also is still able to preserve her character, beaten but not annihilated.