Germán Gedovius

Dama de las Violetas, c. 1908

Óleo / tela
90 x 90

Germán Gedovius, a deaf-mute from birth, used drawing as a means of communicating with others since childhood. As a youth, he was sent off to Germany, the homeland of his father, in the hope of finding a cure for his deafness there. Because of the interest he had demonstrated in art, he studied for more than a decade at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he was steeped in fin-de-siècle culture and came into contact with modernist and avant-garde works of art. Upon returning to his native Mexico, he began to teach painting at the Academy of San Carlos, where he contributed to the education of an entire generation of artists and was considered one of the important conduits in bringing modernism to Mexico.

Woman with Violets reflects the spirit of the time. The subject of a woman, dressed in black with a veil covering her head, is a possible allusion to mourning. Her pose addresses some of the main concerns of symbolist painting: solitude, the quest for the eternal, the transience of life, and the imminence of death. Her attire is completely European, a fact that reflects the influence of the Continent on middle-and upper-middle-class Mexican life at the turn of the century. At that time, the influence of European culture had not yet been replaced by the Mexican imagery that would fill the art of the Revolution. An open landscape with a forest as a setting for the figure of the woman and works as a compositional frame for the painting’s structure. The mastery in the depiction of light, the use of blurred edges, and the way the pigment is applied to create tiny brushstrokes of complementary colors certainly show evidence of the artist’s knowledge of Impressionism and avant-garde European painting.

Pliego Quijano, Susana. Mexican modern painting from the Andrés Blaisten Collection, Mexico: RM Verlag Barcelona, 2011, page 34.

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