Girls Spinning at the Gate | Ministry of Culture, Romania
Fete lucrând la poartă
Open-air landscape and genre painting in one, the picture is characteristic of Grigorescu’s ability to capture and visually define Romanian national specificity in the wider cultural context generated by the country’s attempts at modernization and its recently gained independence. Girls Spinning at the Gate captures the intimate relation between man and nature, the elegant simplicity of the folk costume while focusing on the landscape. Often considered Romania’s national painter, Nicolae Grigorescu is eager to create a style capable to convincingly render a specifically Romanian subject-matter. In order to do so, he embraces open-air painting, the rural subjects typical of the Barbizon school, whose later representatives he emulated during his sojourns in France, as well as some of the principles advocated by the Impressionists, trying to incorporate in his paintings accurately studied light changes and their effects on colours. This particular combination is easily perceptible in the lyrical quality of his imagery, highly evocative of the Romanian countryside – a subject he relentlessly promoted among his fellow country-men. From this perspective and compared to the traditional, conservative attitude typical of the local academic milieu, his approach is profoundly modern. Girls Spinning at the Gate focuses our attention on the young women while the painter’s fresh take on light effects brings the surrounding landscape to the fore.