JAMES WHISTLER AND THE 'GLASGOW BOYS' IN LATVIAN ART (Dzeimss Vistlers un 'Glazgovas zeni' Latvijas maksla)
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In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, during the first stages of its origination, Latvian art absorbed influences of various European schools and centers of art, as well as specific artists. A prominent (and, as yet, insufficiently evaluated) role in this process was played by the distinguished James Whistler and the Scottish painters from a group known as the Glasgow Boys. Whistler's influence is concretely seen in the portrait work of such artists as Janis Rozentals and Janis Roberts Tillbergs. The American master was clearly one of the sources for Latvian 'mood portraits', as well as for specific color and compositional elements in the paintings. But Whistler, and his Scottish colleagues, had a wider 'radiation field', one which included other genres and helped to set up the very concept of modem art in Latvia at this time - use of the medium as a resource for a more direct and at the same time a more generalized portrayal of 'free nature', rejection of story-telling in favor of emotional effect, painterly forms, the co-existence of tonal color with multi-hued polychromy and Post -Impressionist decorativism, sometimes deliberately rougher textures, etc. Latvian painters such as Janis Rozentals, Janis Valters and Vilhelms Purvitis could view the work of Whistler and the Scots at exhibitions in Riga, Petersburg and major German cities. They could also study German 'mood art', influenced by the Scots, with the help of German art literature (Richard Muther). The general ideas of this article are illustrated with concrete analogies - comparisons between the work of Robert Macauley Stevenson and Janis Valters, or between Edward Walton and Tillbergs, for example. The article contains results of the research work performed by the author as a guest researcher of the Caledonian Research Foundation and the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1997.
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