6. Picturesque Spain? Van Looy, Israëls and Bauer’s Travels in Spain
On 12 January 1887 the Prix de Rome winner Jacobus van Looy, who had reached the end of a two-year study trip to Italy and Spain, wrote to August Allebé, ‘Yes, it is rather a long time, two years spent searching for something picturesque for which you never truly need to search.’1 This remark goes to the core of my findings on the Dutch artists who travelled to Spain in the late nineteenth century. Among this group, Jacobus van Looy, Jozef Israëls and Marius Bauer are the three of greatest interest to art historians. Furthermore, with their disparate backgrounds, they offer a representative picture of their generation. I have investigated their motives, their images of Spain and what influence their travels and their exposure to Spanish art may have had on their work. My main sources were their own letters and accounts of their travels and their artistic work after their return.
Jac. van Looy
Gypsy family, 1886 dated
canvas, oil paint 85 x 66 cm
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
1 ‘ ’t is ook wel een beetje lang, twee jaar zoeken naar iets schilderachtigs daar je eigenlijk nooit naar behoeft te zoeken.’ Letter from Jacobus van Looy to August Allebé, Irun, 12 January 1887, in: J. van Looy (ed. F.P. Huygens), Wie dronk toen water! Bloemlezing uit de briefwisseling met August Allebé gedurende zijn Prix de Rome-reis 1885-1887, Amsterdam 1975, p. 286.