Carlos de Haes

Bruselas, 1826 - Madrid, 1898

  • Landscape with Drove of Cows

  • View near Monasterio de Piedra, Aragón

  • Mountain Landscape

    c. 1872-1875

Carlos de Haes was born in Brussels on 27 January 1826 into a wealthy family of bankers. In 1835 he moved with his parents to Malaga, where he started out as an artist with Luis de la Cruz y Ríos, a neoclassical portraitist of middling talent. In 1850 he returned to Belgium to further his training as a pupil of the landscape artist Joseph Quinaux. From then onwards he showed a preference for this genre and travelled around the Netherlands, France and Germany.

Five years later he returned to Malaga and took part in the National Exhibitions of Fine Arts from their establishment onwards. In 1856 he entered three landscapes of Belgium and Prussia, which won him the third-place medal, and the following year he successfully sat the public examination for the post of professor of landscape at the San Fernando Royal Academy. He secured a first-place medal at the exhibition of 1858 for the landscape entitled Recuerdos de Andalucía, costa del Mediterráneo, junto a Torremolinos (“Memories of Andalusia, Mediterranean Coast, Close to Torremolinos”), now in the Prado. That year he became a full member of the San Fernando Academy and in 1862 he was awarded a first-place medal for a Paisaje en el Lozoya (Paular) [“Landscape in the Lozoya (Paular)]”.

The public prestige Haes attained led to a fresh appreciation of landscape painting, previously considered a lesser genre, by the official circles. He received many awards and distinctions. A knight of the grand cross of the order of Isabella the Catholic and of Leopold of Belgium and a commander of the order of Charles III, in 1862 he was appointed a drawing instructor at the School of Highway Engineers, and around that time he began to illustrate the review El Arte en España with his engravings.

During the following years he entered his works in several exhibitions in foreign cities such as Brussels, Bayonne and Metz, where he won prizes, and was hailed as the foremost practitioner of the new landscape art in Spain and was the first master who made his students go out and paint directly from life. He accompanied them on many trips to different regions of Spain, chiefly Jaraba de Aragón and the Monasterio de Piedra, which he captured in a host of drawings and oil sketches.

In 1873 he met the young Aureliano de Beruete and the following year the painter Jaime Morera, who would become his favourite student. Towards the end of his life Haes’s style became even looser and more direct, influenced by the Barbizon School.

His health began to fail in 1890 and he died in Madrid on 17 July 1898.

A major figure in Spanish landscape painting of the 19th century, Carlos de Haes was also the master of a whole generation of painters who were impressed by his new, plein-air approach to landscape art which shed the fetters of Romanticism that still burdened this genre until well into the second half of the century.

José Luis Díez