The allegorical and mythological scene
Autor: Elena Popescu
The allegorical and mythological scene and subjects were seldom approached by the painter from Braşov. In the Romanian painting in the 19th century the stress was on the erotic, sensual part of the mythological scene, but it was not the case of the allegorical scene where the artist was interested in the allegoric-symbolistic part with a patriotic message, representative in this way being “The Awaking of Romania” by Rosenthal. Mişu Popp, a conformist painter and ready to make a compromise for the bourgeois taste, in his non-religious work, he was willing to accomplish works where the mythological scene was only a pretext, the conveyance of the nude and the sensual-voluptuous part of the scene, were, in fact the real intention of the representation in the painting. In the same thematic context we can place The Odalisque that can be considered an example of “alcove scene” with oriental scent, in which the taking over after Danae by Tizian(Prado, Madrid) was obvious. In the same manner – an ostentatious sensual and provocative one, but with a good execution of the nude and the ambient was The Death of Cleopatra. It is hard to understand how a church painter and an austere portrait painter reached in his “secret” works to such voluptuous conveyances, near to Ingres or the nudes painted by Al. Cabanel. Another The Death of Cleopatra was painted in the manner of the “historical scenes” in the18th century provided the ideea about the adaptation of an archaic Baroque theme to the vision and execution belonging to Academism. Also a mythological theme is the work The Three Parcae rather a blank. Also in the dowry of works with mythological theme must be included The Day and Night, not properly named, being a clear taking over (but a clumsy one) of the famous work by Corregio Zeus and Io in Vienna. A portrait as Flora can be considered the painting The Girl with Roses. New as a vision and special among the Mişu Popp’s works is The Seasons, a panel with four images illustrating allegorically the four seasons. Regarding the artistic vision and the chromatic approach – surprisingly – Mişu Popp came very much closer to the later idyllicism in the landscapes and rural and rural scenes of Grigorescu.
The only work that can be named a historical scene accomplished by Mişu Popp was The Death of Michael the Brave.
Mişu Popp wasn’t a painter of exception, wasn’t a innovator regarding the painting compositional problems, or themes he approached but his work was meaningful especially for the Romanian portrait painting at the middle and the second half of the 19th century. His portrait painting creation accomplished under the Biedermeier style influence in Vienna and the Romantic atmosphere in the Italian painting, that were interpreted in a personal way, make a deep impression even nowadays through the means of fine execution and the figures gentle idealized gave a vision full of sentimentalism that was not far from the English art influences.
The importance and the place of Mişu Popp in that époque of deep transformations and anchoring in the European art of the Romanian art, the époque of great searches and challenges of the human spirit, could be defined again after his laic creation would be better known and his monumental religious painting would be rediscovered from the smoke and from the other paintings that still covered it.