Landscape, Casa de Campo. Madrid - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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Landscape, Casa de Campo. Madrid

Haes, Carlos de

Brussels, 27/01/1826-Madrid, 17/06/1898

Oil on canvas

18.2 x 26.2 cm

c. 1860

Second half of the 19th century


Bequeathed by Mercedes Basabe, widow of Manuel Taramona, in 1953

After Haes returned to Spain in 1857, he constantly made drawings from life using pencil and small-scale oil studies, some of which were used as sketches while others were later turned into larger works in his studio. This may be the case for this bucolic scene called Landscape, Casa de Campo. Madrid, which joined the museum in 1953 thanks to the generous Taramona-Basabe legacy. It is an early work in which Haes reflects the light of a clear day in the middle of summer, judging from the yellowish tone of the parched meadow in the foreground, where a shepherd and his dog are watching over the herd grazing placidly in a slight trough. Judging from the shadows created by the shrubs in the foreground, we can deduce that the sun has begun to set, giving the landscape a golden cast that is enhanced by the yellowish and sepia hues in the foreground, which, in turn, contrast with the leafy darkness of the trees in the background.

Haes may have used this small painting as a study or sketch for painting a larger (79 x 116 cm) oil on canvas entitled Landscape with Shepherds and Goats, which is signed by Haes and dated 1860. Considering the date and the fact that the style of the sketch matches works from his early period, this helps us to date it from around the same year. Both paintings have a very similar composition, and actually they likely depict the same place, with the same trees and even the same lighting. They differ in that in the smaller one the livestock includes cows watched over by a shepherd and his dog, while two figures appear in the larger one and the herd is made up of several goats scattered around the land. The perspective in the large painting is taken from a more distant point of view, which makes both the herd and the shepherds appear smaller.

Likewise, facture of both paintings is very different. The sketch is made precisely and somewhat like a miniature, as befits its size, yet with looseness through fluid brushstrokes. This is quite unlike other small works made by the artist later, such as his two oil paintings in this exhibition, in which the paint is applied in broad brushstrokes thick with paint. Here, the impasto is limited to the dark green of the trees and the lighter points of the composition, and the sky is painted with an almost homogeneous blue on which Haes applied the white brushstrokes of the clouds after the paint dried. Likewise, its facture is quite different to what he later used for his skies, in which the different gradations of intensity merge with the clouds.

By the time Haes painted this delightful sketch in around 1860, he was already successful in Spain; he was a full professor in landscape and had begun his engravings, a technique which he fully mastered. The title is likely based on the old ink inscription on the back, where you can read Casa de Campo (Madrid), although it is actually a later inscription, as the handwriting does not match Haes' and appears over the relined canvas. Nor is there any characteristic feature of Casa de Campo, but we cannot entirely discard the possibility that it depicts that site, given that it was one of his favourites when he lived in Madrid and was seeking inspiration for his works. (Ana Sánchez-Lassa)

Selected bibliography

  • Lasterra, Crisanto de. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : catálogo descriptivo : sección de arte antiguo. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 1969. p. 57, n° cat. 124. (Con el título 'Un paisaje de la Casa de Campo', y atribuido a Carlos de haes)
  • Cat. Gayarre y su tiempo. Pamplona, Laida, 1990. p. 114.
  • De Goya a Gauguin : el siglo XIX en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2008. pp. 210-212, n° cat. 30.
  • Joaquín Costa : el fabricante de ideas [Cat. exp.]. Zaragoza, Gobierno de Aragón, 2011. pp. 146-147.