Subiect: The article entitled Illustrated chronicles of 19th century – The Punishments of painter Gheorghe Ioachim Pompilian was born with the aim of promoting a small artistic chapter of a less known Romanian painters’ creation during the 19th century – artworks that are preserved in the Pinacoteque of Bucharest’s collection.
Gheorghe Ioachim Pompilian (1835, Ploieşti-1907, Bucharest) was one of the young painters who were able to study abroad, in Rome (1862-1865), under the guidance of classicist artist Natale Carta – the same mentor of painter Gheorghe Tattarescu (1845-1851). As a proof of his classicist experience, in the Pinacoteque’s collection a copy is preserved painted after the Italian artist, whose artwork called The pilgrim has also inspired Tattarescu.
The present article will focus on the study of five paintings, which belong to a wider artistic cycle, depicting the correctional punishments applied to offenders during the 19th century. The violence of the punitive acts as the ear pinning, the foot whipping or the cane whipping, determines us to take a look in time, on the criminal laws in the early19th century, tamed once with the adoption of Organic Regulation (1832). Based on the historically documented compositional details, we are able to identify and set in time each depicted scene. A novel aspect is determined by the fact that three of these paintings (The foot whipping of a nobleman, The school corporal punishments and The ear pinning) were inspired after one of the most picturesque columnist’s chronicles of 19th century – Ion Ghica, but also after the novel The old and the new parvenus, written by Nicolae Filimon in 1862. The letters to Vasile Alecsandri were published by Ion Ghica in Literary conversations Romanian magazine, during 1880-1887, and narrate true social stories that happened in early 19th century. Stories in the time of Caragea and School 50 years ago are two of Ghica’s letters that stimulated Pompilian’s imagination in order to depict anthropological aspects, between truth and artistic licence. Discovering the literary sources of inspiration, we are able to set the Punishments artistic cycle (true illustrated chronicles) in the 80’s of the 19th century, in an independent country (Romania), governed by a modern constitution that provided more humane punishments than those practiced during the time depicted by Pompilian.