The New Pundit: The Dog Days Of Summer Are Hard On The Politicians — Seals & Crofts (Summer Breeze) — Real Clear Politics & Barrons: The (Blue) Dog Days of Summer — Museo Nacional del Prado: Spanish Painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923)

13.-Antonio-Garc__a-en-la-playa_01 Joaquín Sorolla, “Antonio García on the Beach”, 1909

See the curtains hanging in the window
In the evening on a Friday night
A little light shining through the window
Lets me know that everything’s all right

Summer breeze, it makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind…

The Dog Days Of Summer Are Hard On The Politicians

The New Pundit: Posted by Troy Stouffer

August is turning out to be a very hot, and uncomfortable month for the White House and especially the Democrat-led Congress. Members of Congress have been met with outrage and frustration over the rush to socialized medicine. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the White House have tried to spin the opposition as anything from Nazi-like to “Astroturf”. Throughout it all the public has continued to voice their displeasure over the sudden and severe hearing loss that has gripped Washington DC.

President Obama’s approval rating has dropped to a new low for him, down to 47%. His Presidential Approval Index has been hovering in the negative range for several weeks and currently sits at a –8, with a mere 29% strongly approving of the President and 37% strongly disapproving. His plummeting poll numbers are a result of several factors, but his push to socialize the health care system is the main catalyst for his decline.

… The administration has further driven our country into bankruptcy and instead of changing their drunken-sailor spending habits; they ask to increase their credit limit. I suppose they need to raise it in order to pay for the economic fiasco known as health care reform. The American taxpayer had to work nearly an entire month longer than last year to pay for the ludicrous spending habits of Washington. The cost of government is 61.9% of our national income and these politicians want to raise it even higher.

The President has tried to portray his “townhall meetings” as open and fair minded, but yet there is never anyone who is opposed to his health care nightmare. Meanwhile, every member of Congress that goes out to meet the voters is met with overwhelming opposition. A recent Rasmussen poll has shown that 53% of voters are opposed to the Health Care Reform plan. Worse yet for the politicos in DC is that the much-coveted “independents” are opposed to the plan by a wide margin.

President Obama has even tried to assuage our fears about a government run health care system putting private insurance out of business, by equating it to the post office. He said that UPS and FedEx are doing fine, it is always the post office that is in trouble. Can the President be that naïve? Does he really believe that the American public want a health care system that runs as efficiently as the post office?

The White House and Congress have severely overestimated the charm of President Obama. They believe that when the President speaks the public all feel a tingle running up their legs and they forget all about the actual words that he is speaking or the actions they are undertaking. The public is smarter than for which the bureaucrats in Washington give them credit…


Cosiendo la vela, 1896

The (Blue) Dog Days of Summer

Real Clear Politics: By David Shribman


… At the heart of all these conversations — at the center of the party handwringing — is a species of political animal called the Blue Dog, a beast that does not occur in nature but that, it turns out, occurs naturally in politics. If you understand the Blue Dog phenomenon, you may understand the Democrats’ problem — and you may conclude that the party’s difficulties aren’t new.

In the old days, when Americans took civics, and took civic life seriously, every schoolboy and schoolgirl knew what a yellow dog was. The phrase, which almost certainly came from Alabama more than three-quarters of a century ago, grew out of the notion that some Southerners would (gladly) vote for a yellow dog if he ran on the Democratic ticket. In short: A yellow dog was a party loyalist.

Today’s Blue Dogs don’t look quite so loyal. There are, by last count, 52 of them, and they are fiscal conservatives within a party that hasn’t always preached, and seldom practiced, fiscal conservatism. They think of themselves as centrists, and given the broad range of ideology in the United States that exists today in comparison to decades past, that’s a pretty fair estimation.

But in recent weeks these Blue Dogs have been angry, snarling canines, slowing down the procession of health-care overhaul from a presidential candidate’s promise to a president’s signature. They have worked to cut the cost of health care and avoid new taxes to pay for expanding coverage to the uninsured. They have been successful, as these elements now are regarded as touchstones of the health plan that is being debated in coast-to-coast town meetings during the August congressional recess.

The concessions House leaders made to the Blue Dogs were not insubstantial. The politics of the House is ultimately the politics of numbers. There are more liberals than Blue Dogs in the Democratic caucus, and many of them worry that the new health-care system is beginning to look a lot like the old health-care system. Thus this August of agony for Democrats.

The Blue Dogs have become the tail that wags the Democratic dog. This is a pretty strong tail, for Democratic leaders have reluctantly come to recognize that the size of this group is what consolidated the Democrats’ power in November and is what contributes to the Democratic leadership’s influence today.

… Two of the most productive periods of Democratic rule were the high tides that gave the Democrats their New Deal and Great Society in the 1930s and 1960s. Both were times when the Democratic coalition included large numbers of conservative Southerners who made a mockery of the notion of Democratic unity on social issues.

Today’s Democratic dilemma is a modern-day equivalent — a quarter of the Blue Dogs are from states that were part of the Old Confederacy. They make it difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get their way — which is precisely their goal. Indeed, among some Blue Dogs that is a point of honor. Here the names Bobby Bright, who won his House seat by 1,790 votes, and Parker Griffith, who won his by 9,328 votes, both freshmen from Alabama, come to mind. The more they can be seen as tormenters of Pelosi, the stronger their support at home becomes. The dissenters have always been with the Democrats, even in the glory years.

… Just as Johnson had his Southern Democrats, President Barack Obama has his Blue Dogs. Both dissenting groups specialized in biting their leaders in the toes, or elsewhere. But remember this: Russell’s 1964 civil rights filibuster was beaten back, allowing Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana to move for final passage of the legislation and Johnson to sign it. In the end, Russell delayed but did not destroy his president’s landmark legislation.


El bote blanco, 1905

The ‘Blue’ Dog Days of Summer


Thank the centrist Blue Dog Democrats for tempering the liberal agenda.

… The current iteration of Democratic control may turn out to be the next-best alternative to division. The party is living up to Will Rogers’ classic gibe that “Democratic” and “organization” have little in common. There is fierce infighting, especially in the House of Representatives, where the Democratic Party’s centrist Blue Dog Coalition has gone toe-to-toe with the party’s most liberal members — the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman. So far, the Dogs have forced them to blink twice over elements of President Obama’s legislative centerpieces: health care and cap-and-trade — a complex and potentially costly attempt to reduce the nation’s greenhouse gases.

The Blue Dog Coalition, which has 52 members, was founded in 1995, but has never been more influential. “THEY ARE HUGE,” says Greg Valliere, chief policy strategist for Soleil Securities Research in New York City. “The only way legislation passes is if the Blue Dogs and some moderate Republicans go along. For President Obama, I’d call this involuntary triangulation.” Thus, the Democratic health-care proposal will be scaled back dramatically, he predicts.

… At the same time, the liberal Democrats in the House have been weakened by a loudly vocal part of the public’s revolt against both their costly, government-centric health-care proposal and their obtuse decision to budget $550 million for eight corporate jets.


It’s mostly in the math, however. Speaker Pelosi cannot pass a single measure without substantial Blue Dog support. There are a total of 256 Democrats and 178 Republicans in the House (and one vacancy). Without the Blue Dogs, Pelosi has just 204 votes, versus 230 for the opposition.

University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato says that some Dogs are actually liberals with sympathy for Speaker Pelosi. They joined the coalition to make themselves more appealing to a broader cross-section of voters, he says. Last year, six Blue Dogs voted with liberals on economic matters more than 70% of the time, according to the National Journal.

Another nine Blue Dogs voted with liberals on economic matters more than 60% of the time. Assuming, then, that all the House Republicans oppose liberal Democratic bills and they are joined by only the 37 hard-core Blue Dogs, then the liberals would win by four votes, 219 to 215 — far too close for comfort. This is why the Speaker deals so carefully with the block.

… The group sometimes holds informal discussions with Republicans, but they don’t like the GOP all that much. The GOP is “the ‘Just Say No’ party,” says Blue Dog Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah. The Blue Dogs, he says, are populists — not ideologues — and they’re out to improve bills, not block them. Their focus is fiscal responsibility.

They’ve insisted that the health-care plan add nothing to the deficit. Matheson also wants to allow consumers the choice of keeping their current insurance.

This still isn’t two-party rule. Complacent investors could get bushwhacked. Look what happened with cap-and-trade, which critics say will harm the economy: the Dogs split, with 23 ayes and 29 nays. All 12 of the most liberal members voted for it; so did conservative Blue Dogs like former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler of North Carolina.

What happened? Members were more concerned about the bill’s regional — than its fiscal — impact. Shuler saw more green jobs and less dependence on foreign oil. Sometimes, the Blue Dogs behave like stray dogs.



Afternoon Sun, 1903

The Museo del Prado is presenting the largest and most important retrospective ever to be devoted to the work of Joaquín Sorolla, the most internationally celebrated Spanish painter of the XIX century. The exhibition includes more than 100 paintings by the artist and will offer a comprehensive overview of his finest works, among them all of his great masterpieces.

They include the group of panels entitled Visions of Spain, painted for the Hispanic Society of America and brought to Spain by Bancaja in 2007. This exceptional exhibition has benefited from the sponsorship of Bancaja, who in addition to their significant undertaking as organising body of the exhibition “Sorolla. Vision of Spain” that was shown to great acclaim in various Spanish cities, has now made a further contribution in the form of their collaboration with this major exhibition project at the Prado.

The exhibition “Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923)” (Museo del Prado, 26 May to 6 September 2009) offers the visiting public an outstanding opportunity to see more than 100 paintings by the great Valencian master in what will constitute the most comprehensive and ambitious survey of his finest works. Among the 101 paintings on display, loaned from museums and collections worldwide, will be all the masterpieces by Sorolla that brought him most fame.


Sevilla. Los nazarenos, 1914

Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923)

Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) is the first major, monographic exhibition to be devoted to the artist since the one also organised in the Casón del Buen Retiro by the Ministry of Science and Education in 1963. It is also one of the most important ever organised, in Spain and abroad on this great 19th-century painter, both with regard to the number of works and their quality.

The exhibition brings together around one hundred paintings by Sorolla, the most internationally known Spanish artist of his day and one of the key figures in the history of Spanish art. It offers a comprehensive survey based on examples of his finest works and includes the fourteen panels known as the Vision of Spain painted for The Hispanic Society of America, which were brought to Spain in 2007 by Bancaja, sponsor of the present exhibition

Besides the collaboration of numerous private collections and institutions all around the world, the contribution of the Museo Sorolla (Madrid) deserves a special thanks, since it loans a group of fourteen works among them some of the artist’s masterpieces.

The exhibition has a fundamentally chronological structure, organised into various sections that emphasise the importance of the various themes and subjects that Sorolla depicted at different periods in his career. For example, there is a space dedicated to the paintings of social themes that brought the artist fame in the last decades of the 19th century. This is followed by a sizeable group of portraits and a nude that reveal the profound influence of Velázquez on his compositions during the early years of the 20th century.

Another area displays his finest beach scenes, painted in 1908 and 1909. Due to their particular importance and large size, the fourteen panels of Visions of Spain painted for the Hispanic Society of America will fill an entire room of the four occupied by the exhibition. This spectacular group was the most complex and important decorative scheme of Sorolla’s entire career and can also be seen as an epilogue and summary of his entire oeuvre. The exhibition ends with examples of his landscape paintings.

Following his years as a student at the Royal Academy of San Carlos, Sorolla travelled to Italy with a scholarship from the Provincial Council of Valencia. During his stay there, he spent time in Rome and the small town of Assisi, where he perfected his academic training. The study of the nude and the opportunity to familiarize himself with old and modern masters in Italy played a decisive role in his formation as an artist. But the grant also allowed him to visit the other artistic capital of the period, Paris, where he was exposed to the academic realism that would inspire him to paint social themes. Upon his return to Spain, Sorolla settled in Madrid, where he successfully participated in several National Fine Art Exhibitions.

In these events he presented his most committed paintings in this new genre. And They Still Say Fish is Expensive! sums up his ambitious efforts at the time to strike a balance between subjects of a contained dramatic nature, and realistic execution with special attention to light, which began to emerge as his chief concern. These public successes also brought him his first commissions for private collectors, paintings that reflected attractive popular themes in which Sorolla gradually introduced his bold artistic innovations.

1.-Aun-dicen-que-el-pescado-es-caro_01And They Still Say Fish is Expensive!, 1894

Return from Fishing was Sorolla’s first major international success. Shown at the 1895 Paris Salon, it marked his debut on the European stage and consolidated his reputation in Spain. Sorolla’s stay in the French capital also infl uenced his work in canvases such as After the Bath, which shows a shift in taste towards the academic style that dominated the Parisian market. Sewing the Sail confirmed his previous success.

The pictorial representation of the effects of sunlight that characterize these two major works increasingly drew the artist’s attention, becoming the true hallmark of his art. This quest to portray sunlight, using the sails of fishing boats as his best resource, led to Eating on the Boat, a painting in which the sail also enabled the artist to enclose the space where the action unfolds.

These same years saw the rise in Sorolla’s international reputation echoed by a greater interest on the part of private clients to buy his work. To meet this demand, he increasingly painted popular genre subjects and began a successful career as a portrait painter.

2.-La-vuelta-de-la-pesca_01Return from Fishing, 1894

Sad Inheritance established Sorolla’s reputation in Paris and secured his status on the international scene. The impact of this work, which earned him the Grand Prix at the 1900 World Fair, made him the most successful living Spanish painter, confi rming critical interest in his art—an art that explored nature with sincerity and had the seashore as the privileged setting for his paintings.

From then on, we see a change in the execution of his work. In canvases such as Mending the Sails, the brushstrokes became freer and more energetic, in search of a more direct portrayal of the depicted moment and a more faithful rendition of the effect of light. Preparing Raisins shows a progression towards a much more daring modernity, in which contemporary social themes are subordinated to the pure expression of an image.

Mother, on the other hand, marked the appearance in his oeuvre of distinctly intimate images, linked to the most private aspects of Sorolla’s life. These became a regular feature of his work, and following their success, the artist continued to pursue them until the end of his career.

As with so many other artists of his day, Sorolla’s visits to the Museo del Prado, where he was able to learn directly from the great Spanish masters, had great impact on his painting. Velázquez’s influence on his work, which critics recognized from the start, in the fi rst canvases he presented to public contests in Spain, became much more evident following his international success in Paris in 1900. From that moment on, Sorolla adopted Velázquez’s models as his own, alluding to some of his most famous pieces and even copying the resources used by the Sevillian artist.

5.-Desnudo-de-mujer_01Female Nude, 1902

Sorolla’s provocative Female Nude—in which the artist secretly celebrated the sensual quality of his wife’s body — evokes Velázquez’s Venus at her Mirror, while his family group portraits are modelled after Las Meninas. But references to the Sevillian master’s works are not always so direct. His admiration and appropriation of the Sevillian master’s portrait models resulted in dignified likenesses such as those of the Beruetes, in which Sorolla achieves a characteristic sensation of immediacy, or that of The Photographer Christian Franzen where, again mimicking Velázquez, he provides the arresting image of a shared gaze, creating a disjunction between represented space and real space.

Sorolla’s art reached the peak of its maturity in Afternoon Sun. Here, the painter’s interest in capturing the effects of natural light, in this case in a scene featuring a fishing boat being hauled ashore after a day’s work, bathed in the setting sun of a Valencian summer evening —a theme already explored in Return from Fishing—is carried to its utmost limits. Tackled with complete artistic freedom, this visually powerful canvas allowed him to exploit the potential of the colossal dimensions of the fi gures and the imposing presence of the sail, as well as the swelling movement of the sea, captured here with frenzied energy.

… During the summer of 1909, Sorolla moved to La Malvarrosa beach, where he felt a completely happy man. His triumph in Europe had been followed by further success in the United States, and the critical acclaim his work received was only surpassed by its warm reception on the market, which continued to demand more and more paintings by the artist.

This period of fulfilment and self-assurance saw the artist create a series of interesting paintings, all set on the water’s edge. They are euphoric, extraordinarily luminous works that include some of the artist’s most representative pieces. In them, the Mediterranean classicism that hovers over all of Sorolla’s oeuvre achieves its fullest expression, an effect that was reinforced by the frames the artist chose for many of them, inspired by Greek architecture.

In fact, an almost musical harmony, like that of a calm classical procession, informs Strolling along the Seashore, a work that validates the artist’s fame, in which the material treatment is given special prominence. Scenes such as The Horse’s Bath and Boys on the Beach became not only evocations of the Mediterranean’s Greco-Roman past, but also icons of Sorolla’s work and the expression of a joyful interpretation of reality, in contrast to the pessimism of the Generation of ’98.

… In the final years of his life, however, Sorolla abandoned the experimental line he had pursued in works such as La siesta and, around 1915, he returned to his own artistic order. That year, during his summer painting expedition, his art adopted a forceful, monumental tone.

This tone, already visible in Beached Boats, whose sails—as smooth as polished stone—are so swollen with wind that they are cut off by the edge of the canvas, culminates in the sensual, pagan presence of The Pink Robe, where the sculptural physique of a female figure is emphatically humanized by means of a realistic and completely modern treatment of light.

8fdfb53143The Pink Robe, 1916

… In the final years of his life, however, Sorolla abandoned the experimental line he had pursued in works such as La siesta and, around 1915, he returned to his own artistic order. That year, during his summer painting expedition, his art adopted a forceful, monumental tone.

This tone, already visible in Beached Boats, whose sails—as smooth as polished stone—are so swollen with wind that they are cut off by the edge of the canvas, culminates in the sensual, pagan presence of The Pink Robe, where the sculptural physique of a female fi gure is emphatically humanized by means of a realistic and completely modern treatment of light.

… As with his portraits, Sorolla’s landscapes were so outstanding that they alone would have been worthy of major recognition in his day. Infl uenced by his friend Aureliano de Beruete, the leading master of the genre in Spain at the time, Sorolla always showed an interest in the realistic portrayal of the effects of light in all kinds of weather and the faithful refl ection of the natural terrain.

His landscapes are often the most tangible, immediate proof of the total freedom with which he painted. Though he concentrated on views of beaches, meadows, mountains and cities, from 1901 onwards Sorolla also executed landscapes that are a product of the contemplation of a single detail, representations of a daring modernity expressed through unusual framings and a very direct and fresh pictorial language.

The artist’s efforts to portray nature en plein air, which required a great deal of physical stamina, diminished as Sorolla grew older and he became weakened by illness. His fi nal work was therefore limited to the garden of his home in Madrid, now the Museo Sorolla. Sorolla painted his last pieces between the walls of these gardens, and it was there that he laid down his brushes for the last time.


Sevilla. Los nazarenos, 1914


Comments on the exhibition by Jose Luis Díez and Javier Barón (video) Spanish (English subtitles)

Documentary (reduced) English Video

Sorolla Collection (Video)

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