The Impressions of the Unknown R. Mulders

A painter known only as R. Mulders left a number of masterful impressionist paintings, but little else. One painting, Fishing at Low Tide, is currently being offered on ebay.

The oil painting is signed by R. Mulders on the lower left corner. His name and his work is all we have to go one. Recently watching Sister Wendy Beckett’s interview with Bill Moyers, it was intriguing to hear her say paintings where little is known about the artist are the most captivating. To paraphrase, she said “we can only judge the painting, not the artist.”

The Impressions of R. Mulders
The Impressions of R. Mulders

The Impressions of R. Mulders Although there are plenty of auction records for R. Mulders, one of the most recent was at Christie’s in 2007. No detailed biography is available about the painter. He is probably Dutch or Belgian based on some online information and was active at the last quarter of the 19th century.

From his paintings, it’s obvious R. Mulders had a profound love of seashore and the daily life of fisherman, whom he painted with both dexterity and sympathy. The painting on ebay is not too much different from the painting auctioned at Christie’s in 2007 although it is much bigger. In this painting, Mulders chose to downplay the hardship of the mundane routine of fishermen, and romanticized the reward of the life working harmoniously with the nature. At low tide, a few females are waiting on the pier. One bends her body toward the shore, there a fisherman is unfolding the mast. Under the hazy light and above the simmering sea more boats are heading home.

Mulders’ “Fishing at Low Tide” shows he was both influenced by impressionism and Dutch Hague School. The chalk looking brushstrokes of rendering people in succinct efficiency and the pointilistic depiction of waves under the perculiar light (a combination of pinkish warm yellow and the cool purple-blue – complimentary in tertiary colors) demonstrated the impressionism style. On the other hand, the fact that the overall colors are in relative somber scale and are harmonized under the poetic airy mood, suggests his familiarity of Hague School.

Disclosure: The owners of this site have a financial interest in the painting.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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