Studio: international art — 15.1899

Page: 115
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A Roumanian Painter

AROUMANIAN PAINTE R— of the light and dust of the " tsara romaneasca " one
NICULAE ION GRIGORESCO. must be a son of its soil and have the perception
BY WILLIAM RITTER. of this light and dust in one's blood. Like Hello's

child, Grigoresco, though erratic, is interested in,
If, on the one hand, Grigoresco has and full of admiration for all things, and even if he
brought home to Roumania the traditions of takes his walks abroad with no particular purpose in
the great French landscape painters and an echo view, these artistic rambles recall the days of his
of all the new tendencies of his time, he has, on truant childhood—and he is happy,
the other hand, presented to the world the types He early proved his taste for drawing by the skill
of Roumanian people, soldiers, and scenery. he displayed in making caricatures to amuse his little
During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 he playmates. Obliged to earn his own living and to
established his fame as a military painter, and his keep his mother and sisters, he placed himself under
name must rank with Verestchagine and Rocholl, one of the illuminators of icons, who work after the
two artists who have best succeeded in represent- precepts of the monks of Mount Athos, and who are
ing all the horrors of war, as experienced by the called " zugrav " in the country. He was enabled to
common soldier rather than by the general staff. do this by the money he had earned for decorating
Grigoresco is undoubtedly the first painter of the monastery of Agapia, in Moldavia, and by a
Roumania. He does not excel in one line only, small pension from the State. At the first oppor-
but his portraits, animal subjects, and land- tunity he hastened to Paris, where he was astonished
scapes are equally good. The breath of Rou-
manian life is in his pictures, and the Roumania
of to-day will continue to live in his works.

Niculae Ion Grigoresco is a "character." It
was only three years ago that he found out when
and where he was born; and quite recently—
his biographers being puzzled as to his age—
he, for the first time in his life, bethought him-
self, and found that he had quite innocently
misled them. It seems, however, that he was
born on May 15, old style (28th, new style),
1838, at a considerable distance from Bucarest,
between Titu and Gaesci, on a great estate
belonging to the Lynche family, which was
managed by his father. After the latter's death
he went to Bucarest, and his education there was
in no way different from that of other little
Roumanian street-boys of his time, his " studies "
consisting chiefly in roaming about the " mahala "
(suburbs) and wandering round the hundreds of
small churches, with their bulb-shaped domes
and their quaint, dilapidated cemeteries scattered
about here, there, and everywhere in the old
quarter of Bucarest, which now no longer exists.
The urchins, or " little chicken-men" (as they
are called in the language of the country), who
paddle about in the muddy pools and roll in the
dust, dressed in their embroidered shirts, are
tanned by the same sun that tanned those pictur-
esque children of olden days. " Genius and
childhood have one point in common—naivete,"
according to Ernest Hello, and this sort of
"naivete" in Grigoresco's Roumanian scenes

always recalls his life as one of these little urchins. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^M

It is obvious that in order to reproduce the effects " the seamstress " by niculae grigoresco

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