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Norwegian Great Artist Edvard Munch - A Year in the Life 1905

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:56 AM

The Great Artist Edvard Munch Painting "Arrogant Kaiser"
In 1905, Munch's native Norway won independence from Sweden. In the same year Russia suffered catastrophic defeats at the hands of Japan and was plunged into a revolutionary ferment. Meanwhile German blustering over French interests in North Africa provoked the first Moroccan crisis.

Although Norway and Sweden had been united by the same monarch since 1814, the former still retained their own parliament (the Storting) to govern internal affairs. A growing national consciousness echoed by an explosive literary revival at the end of the 19th century led to the Storting's demand for Norwegian political autonomy. An act was passed setting up a separate consular service which was repudiated by King Oscar II. In June 1905, the Storting declared 'the union with Sweden dissolved as a result of the King ceasing to function as Norwegian King', confirmed by a plebiscite in August. War seemed imminent for a time, but in October a formal separation was negotiated. In December, Prince Charles of Denmark became Norway's new king as Haakon VII.

Genius of modern physics In 1905, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) published three important papers containing revolutionary theories: that light is a combination of energy and frequency; that the irregular motion of particles in liquid suspension (Brownian Motion) was due to kinetic energy, and finally his special theory of relativity which destroyed the Newtonian concept of absolute time and space and asserted that their measurement was dependent on relative motion. Furthermore, energy (E) was linked with mass (M) and the speed of light (C) the equation E=MC2.
Russia had been at war with Japan over the control of Manchuria and Korea since 1904. On 1 January the naval base of Port Arthur (leased from China by the Russians) fell to the Japanese after a ten-month siege. Three months later the Russian army was defeated in a hard-fought battle at Mukden.



The final blow was struck in May when the Russian Baltic fleet arrived in the straits of Tsushima, between Korea and Japan, after a journey halfway round the world, only to be utterly destroyed by the Japanese Imperial Navy led by Admiral Togo. Both victor and vanquished were exhausted by the war and ready for peace. The terms of the Treaty of Portsmouth in September 1905 were relatively moderate. Russia gave up Port Arthur and the southern half of Sakhalin Island and recognized Japan's predominant position in Korea. The two powers later agreed to exercise equal influence in Manchuria.

Russian prisoner at Port Arthur, The Russo-Japanese war began in February 1904. The main war zone was the Russian-controlled Port Arthur, an ice-free harbour on the southern tip of the Liaotung peninsula in Manchuria. Japanese successes in blockading and partially destroying the Russian fleet encouraged the landing of troops in June under General Nogi. However, progress south to Port Arthur was delayed by the Russians who were busy fortifying the town. Three months of Japanese assaults proved suicidal so Nogi decided to launch a triple attack on the twin peaks of 203 Metre Hill in November which was gained after 10 days, at a loss of 8,000 men. From this vantage Japanese heavy guns bombarded the Russian fleet and town into submission. The Russian General Stoessel officially surrendered on 2 January 1905.
Defeat further discredited the already unpopular Tsarist regime. The ensuing '1905 Revolution' began on 22 January with 'Bloody Sunday', when a peaceful demonstration of 150,000 workers and their families was fired on outside the Winter Palace. About a thousand were killed and many more wounded. Strikes, demonstrations and peasant risings swept the land, culminating in October, when sailors of the battleship Potemkin mutinied and 200,000 urban workers organized their own representative body, the St Petersburg soviet, soon to be dominated by the fiery personality of 25-year-old Leon Trotsky. The new Prime Minister, Sergei Witte, persuaded the Tsar that the token consultative body (Duma) he had set up was insufficient and wider promises of reform were made.

An immediate sensation, Claude Debussy wrote that his 'music has no other aim than to melt in the minds of predisposed people and to become identified with certain scenes or objects'. The composer was very much alive to the literary and artistic currents of his time, particularly Symbolism and Impressionism. In 1894, he completed a musical equivalent to Mallarme's celebrated Symbolist poem Prelude a l'apres-midi d'une faune, a revolutionary piece of music which was followed 11 years later by his great Impressionist work La mer. This striking musical evocation of the sea found pictorial inspiration in the seascapes of Turner and the prints of the Japanese artists Hokusai and Hiroshige; hence the use of the Hokusai print on the first edition of the work. The careful balance of European power threatened to be undermined during this year by Kaiser Wilhelm II's blustering attempts at world power status. His personal visit to Tangier was an attempt to block the Anglo-French entente cordiale whereby France recognized Britain's position in Egypt while Britain acknowledged French interests in Morocco. The Kaiser's tacit recognition of Moroccan independence only succeeded in strengthening the Anglo-French alliance. Another blow fell when the treaty agreed between Kaiser Wilhelm and the Tsar at Bjorko in Finland later that year was repudiated by ministers on both sides as it conflicted with the terms of the existing Franco-Russian alliance.

A variety of other events characterized 1905. It was the year the great actor-manager Sir Henry Irving, whose knighthood set the seal of respectability on the theatre, died and the Swedish film star Greta Garbo was born. The artists Schmidt-Rottluff and Kirchner founded the expressionist Die Brucke (The Bridge) Group. The British General Election was a land-slide victory for the Liberals, who were to remain in power, introducing a wide range of reforms, up to the First World War. In Dublin, a new militant organization, Sinn Fein, held its first national convention. Franz Lehar's operetta The Merry Widow began its world-wide triumph at Vienna while Richard Strauss's more decadently erotic Salome received its first performance at Dresden; and, not to be outdone, Dr Sigmund Freud published his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.

Writer – Marshall Cavendish

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