The execution of the Communards, Gisbert

The execution of the Communards, Gisbert
The execution of the Communards, Gisbert

Throughout the 19th century, history painting became one of the benchmarks of the time, both because it was considered one of the most difficult genres to execute – in it the historical rigor of the scene, as well as the portraits of the characters- as for their political leanings in a moment of instability. In Spain, the painters of the time opted for many historical themes, but it was not until the work that we analyze here, The Execution of the Communards by Antonio Gisbert, when this particular theme became one of the great arguments used by the painters. history painters.

Antonio Gisbert Pérez (1834 – 1901) was one of the leading representatives of 19th-century Spanish painting, associated with the romantic and realistic movements. His training took place at the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, although He also traveled to Rome and Paris where he completed his training. In 1860, when the artist was only twenty-six years old, he presented The Execution of the Comuneros of Castile, at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts held in Madrid that same year. The work was a large oil on canvas in a horizontal format that was more than three and a half meters wide and two and a half meters high.


The piece represents the events that occurred on April 24, 1521, when by order of the monarch Carlos I theleaders of the community revolt - Padilla, Bravo and Maldonado, were executed in the town of Villalar. The comuneros had risen up against the monarch in order to defend their freedoms against the king's imperialist impositions and their tragic fate became a symbol of liberalism. It was precisely this fact that made Gisbert stay on the verge of receiving the Medal of Honor at the National Exhibition, having to settle for the First Class Medal, something that raised numerous criticisms among the public gathered there.

In the center of the composition the artist represents Padillawho, dressed in elegant clothes according to his social status, listens with integrity to the explanations of the Dominican friar who tries to give him comfort as he raises his hands to the sky. The rebel's eyes can't resist and they go down to the ground where his companion, General Bravo, lies with his throat cut while the executioner lets go of his hands. Maldonado for his part, he appears in the background climbing the stairs of the scaffold that will lead him to certain death.

The artist's mastery of drawing can be seen on the canvas, with well-defined lines and a low-angle perspective, from bottom to top, indicating that the painting had to be hung at a considerable height. Special attention also deserves the tactile qualities with which the artist has represented the fabrics of the costumes as well as the attitude of each of the characters.

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