Landscape by Lino Enea Spilimbergo (1896-1964)

I have always thought that the world has never sufficiently appreciated the artists and writers of Argentina. Having paid three visits to that distant country, I have begun to appreciate the artistic vision of its people. This post honors the work of Lino Enea Spilimbergo, the son of Italian immigrants, who was born in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, but for health reasons relocated to the drier province of San Juan in the center of the country.

“Pasaje de San Juan” by the Painter

What draws me to Spilimbergo’s work is that his eye seems to capture much of the wonder that is the Argentine landscape. Though the artists work was by no means limited to landscapes:

“Mujer Sobre Paisaje”

The above picture has both surrealistic and straight landscape elements, incorporating the jungles of northern Argentina with a female nude. Unfortunately, relatively little is written about Spilimbergo’s art on the Internet in English, though I think his work deserves serious study.


The Ruins of Pompeii

“The Forum, Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the Distance” (1841)

Last Sunday, I saw this Danish painting at the Getty Center and dreamed of visiting Pompeii. The artist of Christian Schjellerup Købke (1810-1848), who, like many 18th and 19th century artists did the Grand Tour. He returned to Denmark after a year or two of travel in sunnier climes—and promptly died at the age of 37 of pneumonia. I loved Købke’s painting, though I am saddened that he was cut off in his prime.

In earlier centuries, people were much more matter-of-fact about the suddenness of death—at any age. Although I would love to have seen Pompeii as Købke did, I am saddened that he did not have a longer career. Below is an earlier of his delicate landscapes:

“View of a Street in Østerbro Outside Copenhagen – Morning Light” (1836)

It’s not easy to paint a great landscape. Some painters had the knack, such as Theodore Rousseau, Jacob van Ruisdael, Claude Lorraine, Nicolas Poussin, and J.M.W. Turner. To that list, I would add Christen Købke.

Wild Nature

“Mare au Crépuscule” (1850) by Theodore Rousseau

“Mare au Crépuscule” (1850) by Theodore Rousseau

When I went to the Getty Center last Sunday, there was a traveling exhibit of the mostly landscape paintings of Pierre Etienne Théodore Rousseau. I had never heard of him before. I even asked one of the docents whether that was the same as Henri ”Douanier” Rousseau. Then, when I saw the paintings, I realized that here was a very different artist.

Théodore Rousseau painted nature as she is seen, not as a manicured garden. Here were trees that were alive and dominated the landscape. And man does not figure as a dominant force in most of his work.

“The Pond Near the Road” (1848)

“The Pond Near the Road” (1848)

Étienne Pierre Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867) was considered to be a painter of the Barbizon School, which takes its name from the village of Barbizon near the Forest of Fontainebleau, where many of its adherents would gather. Their work was marked by “its tonal qualities, color, loose brushwork, and softness of form” according to Wikipedia.

After all these years, I am getting a little fatigued with many of the impressionist painters; so it was a relief to see someone who work made me stop in my tracks admiring an artist who was new to me.