Painting of the Month – Evening at Hradcany by Jakub Schikaneder

This month’s featured painting is Evening at Hradcany by Jakub Schikaneder. A moody and ambient painting with a vague, moon-lit figure overlooking the city.

Jakub Schikaneder, Evening at Hradcany
Jakub Schikaneder, Evening at Hradcany

Click here for a high-resolution photo of the painting.

Brief Details About the Painting:

  • Oil on canvas.
  • 86.5 x 107.5 cm (34 x 43.3 inches).
  • Completed 1913.
  • Location: Unknown.

Your Thoughts?

Use this as an opportunity to test your ability to analyze master paintings. In the comments below, share what you think are the top 3 most important aspects of the painting. These could relate to areas such as composition, color, value, progress, brushwork, subject, or symbolism. Once you have done that, you can compare your thoughts with my own in the drop-down below.

Click here to see my thoughts.

  • Several areas compete for my attention: the ambient sky, the vague figure, and the imposing statue on the right. If I had to narrow down on a single focal point, I would say it’s the sky. But the vague figure is a close second. You might see things differently; that’s the beauty of painting.
  • The sky is made up of scumbled reds, a half-moon, and muted clouds. The reds are the most saturated color in the painting and they command your attention. The half-moon is the lightest color in the painting. The reds are not strong by usual standards; they are weak compared to red straight from a tube. But they look strong when surrounded by grays, blacks, and other muted colors. The same goes for the half-moon. It appears light, but it’s far from pure titanium white.
  • The top of the building in the background plays an important role in conveying depth and atmospheric perspective. Notice how it’s conveyed with weaker color and contrast. This pushes it back in perspective and gives the painting somewhat of a middle ground.
  • The imposing statue anchors the painting in terms of value and makes all the other colors appear relatively light by comparison. The statue also frames the right side, which pushes our attention to the left.
  • The straight lines representing the wall and street edges are sloping; they aren’t perfectly horizontal. This creates a more natural composition. Horizontal lines can look static and flat.
  • All the edges in the painting are fairly soft. This plays into the vague, moon-lit atmosphere of the painting. Soft edges=low clarity. Hard edges=clarity.
  • The vague figure presents a few questions: Who is it? What are they thinking and feeling? It reminds me of Frederick McCubbin’s The Pioneer.

16 thoughts on “Painting of the Month – Evening at Hradcany by Jakub Schikaneder”

  1. I love the subject, I love the composition, I love the colors. The transition from the foreground to the background is smooth with no contrast, but still very clear. The figure looking down is vague but you can feel her presents.
    I would paint it with the sea in the background and instead of the figure looking out a couple embracing.

  2. For me, the redness of the sky and the moon crescent is where I first set eyes but rapidly I find the woman resting on the wall ends up being the focal point in an overall dark painting. Funny how the focal point is not necessarily a bright color hue.

  3. This is rather reminiscent of Claude Monet sunrise with the composition highlighting the moon above a winter sunrise. There is an air of mystery, what is the woman thinking as she overlooks the city? The limited palette used makes the contrast of the moon and shawl stand out, and the remains of snow on the ground, show it must be a chilly winter’s eve. A painting of contrast with the lights and darks, muted colours and shadows. The eye is led around the whole painting. Very evocative!

  4. Painting is compelling to the viewer as you do wonder what their thoughts are. I am envious of the perfect colors of the furthest building. I just cannot seem to get that color just right in my paintings.

  5. I love the irregular repeating motif of standing figures. Two humans (one representational, 1 living) , 2 towers, 2 bollards. Each side by side, but there is a gap between the two human figures. The stone structures seem very much paired. The people, on the other hand, seem so hopelessly distant from any connection. I also find the time of day or night impossible to sort out, which adds to the mystery of the scene. Sun or moon? Dark, dense fog or dusk? I like the trace of snow in the gutter – adds to the chill.

  6. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you find artists who are not the top 10 world famous to regard!!! …
    This somber mooody painting makes me think of the oppression of the church. I don’t know of the Czech social history but this painting gives me a glimpse. The loneliness of a single female on a cold snowy night , smallness of human scale amidst church and municipal statuary, – so simple – hopeful in the cycle of the moon and forthcoming spring.
    Colors remind me of the watercolour palette of Jules Guerin.

    thanks for sharing this guy!

  7. – the central focal point is the towering, dark sculpture on the right that implicates a statue of holly mother holding holly child in her arms. Woman standing by the wall overlooking the city (insinuated by two towers of a distant cathedral) is the second focal point, and the full moon partially obscured by warm-lit clouds is the third.
    – The painting is done using middle and dark values implicating the obscurity of the night, gloominess, yet with a glimpse of warmth.
    – The towers of a distant cathedral help establish aerial perspective.
    – The lines that make the wall being linear make the organic figures of a woman and the sculpture stand out.
    – The sculpture frames and anchors the scene.
    – There is a subtle symbolic story:The sculpture is more prominent than the woman to underline that the woman is inferior to the creator: Here, in the shadow of that sculpture, she has to give way to her destiny.
    – There is a repetition of two peaks on the left and to peaks on the right. That brings balance and dynamic to the scene.
    – The scene showing full moon implicates strong emotions culminating in this scene. The moon being partially hidden behind the clouds shows that all emotional baggage is hardly half way out. It shows tremendous emotional charge.
    – Who is the woman waiting for? Considering the overbearing sculpture by her side, I would say that she is waiting for her son to return from far away. She’s old and longing and the sculpture also indicates strong religious undertone, especially due to the fact that it is a scene in Hradcany, a place near Prague known for its cathedrals.

  8. The use of violet and orange in the sky and the soft edges, especially how the church seems to fade into the mist, make the specifics of time of day indeterminate. The large dark statuary contrasts with the small person, and to me makes the scene a lonely one. Is she praying? Weeping? Hard to say, but she almost melts into the wall. Her being there is nevertheless important to the composition; without her the scene would be less interesting, almost cold despite the warm oranges and browns. Moody. It’s a moody painting, and somber.

  9. Love the muted tone of the composition and the use of dark tones i.e. to direct your focus from the left to the right( ie connect the black tones).The values seem very low key although there is a balance of the warm colors on the left and the cooler colors of the right… multiple focal points keep your interest or actually raise more questions about what is going on in the story.

  10. I am not sure about this painting on how I feel. It gives the impression of being lost in the darkness foreground yet looking out to a little light in the background perhaps with some hope. The figure is lost in the dark hues for me.

  11. She seems lonely and cold – more akin to the statuary and cold stonework. What brightness/warmth/ light come from the moon and cathedral which do not reach her to relieve her cold isolation and separation. It is a cold and sad painting with well blended colours to create a narrative of loneliness and ‘apartness’. There is no love or softness in this painting.

  12. I think of the frail human condition living amongst the solid statuary and city build. A solitary woman seeking a beautiful sight: sunset. It seems to say, ‘seek beauty and you will find it’. The colours are subtle.

  13. My very first impression was ugh! The three things that stand out for me are. the simple beauty of a story, the mood and the subtle use of colour. Those things have changed my mind!

  14. The focal point for me is the moon, but also the statue. The sky is very vibrant because of the bluish purple color alongside the peachy color. The bluish purple brush strokes don’t quite touch the statue making it seem to glow. The sky is cloudy and hazy. We only see a few spires, but from that we are supposed to infer the huge castle below (it’s in the title of the painting). So the person is presumably looking down at something magnificent that we can’t see. It’s a very evocative painting with a sense of vast space. The moon and the ledge contribute to this. It feels like there are two people in the picture, the actual person and the statue. I think the statue symbolizes the grandness of humans even in the vastness of the universe. The colors are very pleasing.


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