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Everyday Life in Italy

Italian landscape paintings by Károly Markó, the Elder, constitute one of the most significant groups of paintings in his oeuvre. As early as his Vienna period, Markó occasionally painted some idealised pictures which tended to conjure up the mediterranean world of Italy. After moving to Rome in 1834, the motifs and themes representing Italy either in a solely topographic sense, or its atmosphere, became quite dominant in his painting. Motifs typical of the landscapes of Campagna and of Tuscany keep recurring in the background of his mythological and biblical compositions. At the same time, he depicted these places in autonomous compositions of landscapes, too. Yet, it should also be noted that peasants harvesting, picking grapes, chatting by the well, or driving their herds dressed in their national costumes never ceased to be the permanent staffage in Markó's Italian landscape paintings. This pastoral world has since ancient times been a representation of idyllic life, of man living in harmony with nature, both in literature and in fine arts. Markó's Italian landscape paintings, especially his large compositions, including the grape harvest scene near Tivoli, were mostly painted to fulfill commissions. As regards Markó's children, mainly András and Károly Markó, the Younger, even if they retained the usual Italian themes, their meanings seem to have shifted away from the idealised vision of classicism. András depicted the world of shepherds and charcoal-burners near the Carrara region almost through the eyes of a realist painter. At the same time, Károly Markó, the Younger, chose themes which could easily be identified as far as the level of topography is concerned, that is, primarily places of interest becoming increasingly popular within the world of contemporary tourism.