El huerto y la ermita (The Orchard and the Shrine)

Joaquim Mir

Barcelona, Spain, 1873 - Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona, Spain, 1940
  • Date: 
    1898 (circa)
  • Technique: 
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    115 x 151 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
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Landscape was one of the laboratories in which different artistic trends arising around 1900 became manifest. The profound renovation of this genre in Spanish painting at the end of the century served as a channel for the arrival of modernity. In this context artists such as Joaquim Mir compared themselves with the academic training and the innovations coming from Europe, through landscape painting. El huerto y la ermita (The Orchard and the Shrine) is a fundamental work in Mir's formative years, and it won the artist a prize at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts that took place in Madrid in 1899.
Mir depicts the surroundings of the chapel in San Medir, an area on the outskirts of Barcelona. Distancing himself from the academic norms, he structures the composition in three horizontal strips: in the foreground he presents the garden, in the middle ground a triangular shape of mauve tones that leads to the cypresses, and in the background the chapel. The presence of a medieval construction in a rural setting indicates the survival of romantic models such as the picturesque and the aesthetic ideal of ruins. Meanwhile, at the formal level, the painting experiments with the expressiveness of autonomous colour and the effect of light, an element that will contribute to Mir's developing, in his artistic maturity, a personal version of Impressionism.

Reyes Carretero