It was in Mallorca that the renewal of Spanish landscape painting began, mainly by painters from the Catalan region and at centre stage around the turn of the century were painters Santiago Rusiñol and Joaquin Mir Trinxet, who for a while shared a house in Palma.
Rusiñol was by 1903 a widely acclaimed painter and renowned journalist, novelist and dramatist. He had initially come to Mallorca to overcome a morphine addiction and soon found the daily rhythms of provincial life on the island agreeable. His book, a homage to Mallorca titled The Island of Calm, describes a place “where the sun tarries longer,” where “without sleeping, one can rest and dream” and where “you can bathe in light and sunsets”.
Rusiñol was entranced by the Mallorcan light, and light and shadow soon came to dominate his paintings, whether he was painting a field of almonds in flower, a ruined castle, or the stately gardens of Raixa. He was to some extent an Impressionist, as far as technique, light and colours were concerned, but he also developed his own private, lyrical world. For him, painting was more than a medium employed in the real world. It was a spiritual language that transmitted his poetry.
Santiago Rusinol: Terraced Garden in Mallorca, 1911
In this he was much influenced by Belgian symbolist William Degouve de Nuncques, who lived in Mallorca between 1899 and 1902 and painted deep, dismal caverns and vast cloudy skies. Symbolists aimed not to depict nature for its own sake but rather to use it to stir up one’s deepest feelings and reawaken primordial yearnings.
Listen to Nature as one might listen to music or to a poet.
(Miquel dels Sants Oliver)