Andrés Cortés Aguilar

Spanish, Sevilla 1812-1879

“Heads of cattle”
signed lower middle left side
Oil on canvas
22 1/4 H by 27 3/4 L inches
A group of sheep and cows resting; a peaceful and serene image that contrasts with the almost fantastic background in its romantic, sublime character. However, scene and stage share that dreamlike character that invites us to meditate, to contemplate ourselves in the landscape. Absolute religious reverence for nature in fullness, with the only human presence being that of he observer.
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Andres Cortés Aguilar’s work shows us in the first place a scene of rocks and moss, a plane worked in warm tones – green and earthy – with which the whites, ocher and browns of the fur of the animals merge perfectly. Cows and sheep rest in this rocky haven, alone in appearance, although the shepherd cannot be far away. The composition of this foreground draws a smooth but clear diagonal, which starts from the middle area of ​​the left side of the painting and descends to the right side, where a ram appears in the second place, clearly highlighted in the space, perfectly described although finding further than the rest of the animals.

Beyond we see soft green hills shrouded in mist, their colors faded but bright, infinitely nuanced, reflecting with naturalism the depth of space. In fact, there is a great separation between the first term and the hills, as indicated by the scale and the chromatism itself. Above the greens, the fog rises, which becomes more dense towards the left side underlining the diagonal composition, while it opens on the right to show us the immense mountains, which come out of the frame, closing the space despite its remoteness. Cortés works these peaks with delicate violet tones, changing and combined with golden and green veins, creating a turbulent, sublime, purely romantic image.

The painter builds on this canvas an image that links romanticism and custom in a personal way that, on the other hand, has its roots in the Spanish and European traditions of the genre. The space is constructed in a purely romantic way, with an abyss perspective that complements a slight confusion of views; the landscape is conceived in a scenographic way, with a clear separation between the foreground and the background that affects the heroic nature of nature and, at the same time, is combined with a light that transmits an atmosphere of fog, cloudy, as of reverie, which invites emotional identification with nature.

One of the most radical aspects of romantic painting was the attempt to replace the large canvases of historical, religious or mythological theme with the landscape. Romantic painters intended that the pure landscape, with few figures or totally devoid of them, reach the heroic significance of the history painting. They were based on the idea that human feeling and nature should be complementary, one reflected in the other; the landscape should arouse emotion and convey high ideas. Thus, landscape designers such as Cortés tried to express their feelings through nature, instead of simply imitating or idealizing it.