Herbert Gustave Schmalz (British, 1856-1935) The Return from Calvary

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Lot 54
Herbert Gustave Schmalz
(British, 1856-1935)
The Return from Calvary

Sold for £ 23,750 (US$ 31,222) inc. premium
Herbert Gustave Schmalz (British, 1856-1935)
The Return from Calvary
signed 'Herbert Schmalz' (lower left)
oil on canvas
89 x 129cm (35 1/16 x 50 13/16in).

Footnotes

  • This work is to be sold by kind permission of the Diocese.

    Herbert Gustave Schmalz was born near Newcastle in 1856 to a German father. Schmalz's art training was fairly conventional. At the age of 17 he moved to London where he enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools at the same time as Sir Frank Dicksee, Stanhope Forbes and Arthur Hacker. At that time many artists undertook further training abroad and Schmalz duly completed his education in Antwerp. The Academie in Antwerp combined elements of French, German and Flemish schools and introduced British artists to the broader currents in European painting.

    On his return to London Schmalz established a reputation as a painter of classical, literary and historical subjects, but time spent in Jerusalem in 1890, proved invaluable in his treatment of New Testament subjects. Schmalz's early work is Pre-Raphaelite in style, but as he matured, his work developed into a more Neo-Classical style with an emphasis on brooding light and atmosphere and proved popular with the public through reproductions in magazines and prints.

    One of his most powerful and revered images is The Return from Calvary of 1891. The picture works on several levels. In the foregound can be seen the distraught figure of the Virgin Mary, with St John and Mary Magdalene. Beyond them two more women can be seen, one of them looking back at the city of Jerusalem with Mount Golgotha in the far distance. The whole scene is overshadowed by dark storm clouds, but there is a light breaking through symbolic of events to come.

    The critic George Moore wrote: 'That Mr Schmalz's picture is capable of exercising a profound effect on the uneducated mind there can be no doubt. While I was there, a lady walked with stately tread into the next room, and seeing there nothing more exciting than rural scenes drawn in water-colour, exclaimed, "Trees, mere trees! what are trees after having had one's soul elevated?"

    Schmalz enjoyed considerable success during his lifetime and was great friends with Frederic, Lord Leighton PRA, who along with Holman Hunt and Val Prinsep was a neighbour in Addison Road, Kensington.

    In 1900 Schmalz had a one-man show at The Fine Art Society where he exhibited 40 works and a book illustrating many of his works was published in 1911 by Trevor Blakemore. He died in 1935.

Saleroom notices

  • Herbert Schmalz wrote a memoir of his trip to the Holy Land for the Art Journal in 1893 (pp. 97-102). 'The Return from Calvary' was illustrated as a line drawing (p.100) with a premium plate etching of the three figures on the left at the beginning of the article.
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