March 1, On This Day
Sculptor of Cain and Abel
Going on to develop a reputation second only to that of his contemporary, famed Italian sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini, Giovanni Dupré was born on March 1, 1817. In the mid-19th Century, he won first prize with a Judgment of Paris and made his reputation with the life-size figure of the Biblical Abel — it is said that “the raw naturalism of the figure, greeted with shock at the time, presaged the beginning of the end of Neoclassicism in Italian sculpture”. He followed this with a more classical Cain, also in marble in 1840.
Rebellious in an eventful life
Austrian artist, poet, playwright, and teacher Oskar Kokoschka, born on March 1, 1886, is known for his intense expressionistic portraits and vision that influenced the Viennese Expressionist movement. Among his early works were gesture drawings of children, portrayed as awkward and corpse-like. Later, a tapestry of his was pronounced “disturbing” due to its depiction of youthful, exotic and sexualized fantasies and received backlash from conservative officials — cementing his spot in the Viennese avant-garde. For an interesting portrait made in 1909 of art historians Hans Tietze and Erica Tietze-Conrat, Kokoschka used his fingernails to scratch thin lines into paint, making a surreal, subliminal muted green backdrop, upon which came vibrant tones of blue and red. The Jewish couple fled Austria in 1938 but kept this portrait with them till it was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in 1939. Deemed a degenerate by the Nazis, Kokoschka fled Austria in 1934 for Prague and painted several anti-Fascist works during World War II.
Art that adorned money
One of Greece’s most important 19th-century painters, Nikolaos Gyzis was born on March 1, 1842. He was the major representative of the so-called ‘Munich School’, the major Greek art movement of this century. His painting, The Secret School, was depicted on the reverse of the Greek 200 drachmas banknote of 1996–2001, and the Athenian neighbourhood Gyzi is named for him. He was most famous for his work Eros and the Painter, his first genre painting.
Similarly, a sculptor who was said to have embodied the ideals of the American Renaissance was born on March 1, 1848. Augustus Saint-Gaudens was raised and achieved critical success in New York City after a stint in Europe for study. Many of his monuments commemorating heroes of the American Civil War still stand. He also designed the $20 Saint Gaudens Double Eagle gold piece (1905–1907) for the US Mint, considered one of the most beautiful American coins ever issued.