SHEPHERD W & K GALLERIES European Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture
SPITZWEG, Carl   1808-1885
19th Century

PORTRAIT OF A CELLIST IN PROFILE WITH OTHER STUDIES, Dimensions: 4 9/16” x 5 1/4” (11.6 x 13.3 cm).

On his travels, Spitzweg never missed a military band’s performance, even if it pained him to listen to “some thirty brass players blowing with all their might in a small room.” At home, his family and friends played Hausmusik, together with the seven brothers Moralt, all members of the Bayerische Hofkapelle. Spitzweg’s aunt Anna Moralt was an excellent concert pianist, his stepfather played the flute, his brother Eduard managed a store for sheet music, and the artist himself took piano lessons all his life. There were numerous occasions when the artist could have drawn the handsome cellist. His costume suggests the time around 1840. Spitzweg’s talent as a draughtsman had already manifested itself by the time he was fifteen. He drew in sketchbooks all his life, often including notes recording daily life during his numerous travels. The present sketch (5) is typical of many female figures in Spitzweg’s paintings: they often appear depicted in rear-view, carrying a basket, and wearing the generic dress of a Bavarian maid or country girl. Spitzweg trained as a pharmacist, but pursued his love for painting and drawing when he became financially independent after his father’s death in 1828. From 1842 to 1855 he contributed illustrations to the Fliegende Blätter. He learned from painter-friends, from copying in museums, and from traveling to major art centers, such as Prague (1849), Paris (1850/51) and London. During his trip to Paris he painted in the Forest of Fontainebleau alongside the Barbizon painters. Diaz’ and Delacroix’ use of color, light and atmosphere deeply impressed him. Subsequently his somewhat dry and pedantic style became much freer, and his subject matter turned from humorous figures to lyrical and atmospheric landscapes. He is popular to this day for his mildly satirical paintings of peculiar persons, such as The Needy Poet and The Perpetual Bridegroom.
Wilhelm Spitzweg, Der unbekannte Spitzweg. Ein Bild aus der Welt des Biedermeier. Dokumente, Briefe, Aufzeichnungen (Munich, 1958), p. 81. Siegfried Wichman, Carl Spitzweg, Verzeichnis der Werke. Gemälde und Aquarelle (Stuttgart, 2002), passim.