Picturi puţin cunoscute cu subiecte din războiul de independenţă datorate lui Johann Nepomuk Schonberg / Lesser - Known paintings by Johann Nepomuk Schônberg inspired by the war of Independence of 1877 - 1878.
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|Excerpt||At the outbreak of the Oriental War of 1877, known in Romania as the War of Independence, many war correspondents and special artists went to the battlefields south of the Danube, in Bulgaria. One of them was the Austrian artist Johann Nepomuk Schônberg who sent his drawings to magazines such as Le Monde Illustré, Ueber Land und Meer and The Illustrated London News. He accompanied his sketches with long letters which the editors used as articles from an eye witness. In his first correspondence he offered a contemptuous image of the Romanian Army. According to his standards, which were those of the Austro-Hungarian Army, the Romania soldier lacked stamina and military behaviour. His sketches rendered a pitiable aspect of the infantryman, poorly dressed and badly drilled by young officers who were much more concerned with not tamlsching their new uniforms. Later, Schônberg changed his opinion of the Romania peasant-tumed-soldier while seeing him fighting. He eventually became a great admirer of the soldier's courage and daring attacks against the Turks and pictured him In due colors.
s one of the few special artists who witnessed the siege and fall of the Grivitza Redoubt. His sketch of that battle was published in the October 20 issue of The Illustrated London News. A sketch depicting Schônberg and Irving Montagu, another special artist for the British magazine, was published in the following Issue. They were shown while visiting Princess Elizabeth's hospital in Bucharest.
In 1878, at the conclusion of the war, Schônberg was asked by Prince Carol I of Romania to make for him six large paintings inspired by the late campaign. Schônberg's interests in Bucharest were represented by one of his countrymen, Friedrich Lachmann, a former war correspondent for the newspapers Die Politik and Bund. Throung Lachmann a contract was signed on July 22, 1878 stipulating the conditions for completing such works. The contract is preserved at the National Archives In Bucharest. It stated that the painter was to paint truth worthy portraits of the Ruling Prince Carol I as well as the high ranking officers, staff officers and aides-de-camp who accompanied the commander-in-chief of the Western Army. Schônberg did his best to please his patron and worked hard to obtain correct likenesses of all those who were in the Prince's suite. The resemblances are striking and convey truth to the imposing compositions.
The key events of the campaign selected by Prince Carol to be painted are as follows: Crossing of the Danube; The Bombardment of Vidin, also called "This is the music I like!" after the Prince's words when a shell burst near him on a battery in Calafat; Assault on the Grivitza Redoubt; The Ruling Prince Visiting the Grivitza Redoubt; Prince Carol at the Battle of Plevna; First Encounter between Prince Carol I and Osman Pasha after the Surrender.
Although the contract stated the date for the completion of at least two of these paintings to be in no more than seven months, the artist needed more time. Schônberg completed the whole lot in 25 years: the first picture was ready in 1891, the last în 1903.
The artist dated and signed each painting and gave additional information certifying his presence on the battlefield as witness of the event. To further substantiate the accuracy of the paintings Schônberg used his own drawings and notations and sent water color sketches to Bucharest for his patron's approval. In a letter to Lachmann, dated December 25, 1880, Schônberg complained about losing time, and money, doing the water color sketches and a mid-size oil painting for the Prince's approval, instead of lithographing them. Some of these paintings were used as models for color prints which were sold at low prices to those interested in such topics.
Lachmann and Schônberg also undertook the printing of a plate depicting the Victory Parade of October 8, 1878 in Bucharest, and another one with various events of the war. All these plates, as well as the newspaper images done by Schônberg are still in various museums and libraries. But the six large paintings, once the pride of the Royal Palace, were kept in storage at the National Museum of Art in Bucharest for more than fifty years. Prince Carol's presence in these paintings displeased the communist government which wanted to hide the Royal Family and its contribution to Romanian history. Consequantly, these six paintings have not been exhibited since 1948, when the last king of Romaniy, Mihai was constrained to abdicate. It is fortunate that none of these works of art was damaged and they need only minor restoration. After such a long period of neglect, these forgotten pictures are brought to light and published together for the first time.
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