Cultured Wednesday: Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s most famous extant buildings are found in and around Berlin.

If you have ever visited or seen pictures of Berlin, Germany, you most likely have seen a building drafted, re-designed or approved by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Prussian city planner, architect and painter. Born on 13 March 1781 in Neuruppin, Schinkel was one of the most prominent neoclassical and neogothic architects of 19th century Germany and despite his influence and achievements, people still think he had even more potential that he could not live up to due to the political circumstances of his time.

Medieval City on a River, 1815

Schinkels most famous extant buildings in and around the German capital include the Neue Wache (1816–1818), the National Monument for the Liberation Wars (1818–1821), the Schauspielhaus (1819–1821) at the Gendarmenmarkt and the Altes Museum on Museum Island (1823–1830). He also carried out improvements to the Crown Prince’s Palace and to Schloss Charlottenburg.

The header to this post shows Schinkel’s stage set for the 1st Act of Mozart’s Magic Flute, dated 1815 just like the above painting, a design that is still quoted by modern-day stage designers when planning the set for this opera. We find his style quite wholesome, a good example of a time when people still had a clear idea of what was good and beautiful, and pleasing in an aesthetic sense, as well as where such ideas originated in the first place.

Castle by the River 1820

Schinkel, like so many artists of the 19th century, traveled a lot in Europe and particularly to Italy, the landscape and cities of which were and still are especially inspiring, it seems – just look at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his love for Italy, for instance. Of course, Goethe and Schinkel met and respected each other, in fact, the list of names the family Schinkel were acquainted with reads almost like a who-is-who of Germany’s 19th century artistic and royal circles. But returning to the Italian influences, Schinkel’s style, generally speaking, was defined rather by a turn to Greek than Roman architecture. “He believed”, they claim in his Wikipedia entry, “that in order to avoid sterility and have a soul, a building must contain elements of the poetic and the past, and have a discourse with them.” I guess the same kind of discourse between tradition and poetry can be found in his paintings if you are able to discern Nature’s voice in the lay of the land, or the trees that surround Schinkel’s painted buildings.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel died on 9 October 1841 in Berlin, leaving behind his wife Susanne and four children, three girls and a boy, the youngest daughter being 19 years old at the time. He was buried in the Dorotheenstädtischen Friedhof in Berlin-Center, where twenty years later his wife was laid to rest along with their two older daughters.

The Schinkel grave in Berlin

Eventually, several generations of architects from Berlin who were influenced by Schinkel’s style were classified as the “Schinkelschule“. So, if you ever visit Germany’s capital, keep a look out for building designed or re-designed by Schinkel, or later on built true to Schinkel’s style.

Fluffballs: The Persian Longhair

Persian Longhairs are true lounge lizards!

This breed of cat is usually an indoor dweller.  Persian Longhairs are true lounge lizards!

  • Date of origin: 1800s
  • Place of Origin: Great Britain
  • Ancestry: Middle East Persians
  • Outcross breeds: None
  • Other name: Called Longhairs in Great Britain
  • Weight range: 8-15 lb (3.5-7 kg)
  • Temperment: Interested observer

Persian Longhairs have very soft fur that needs daily grooming, as can be expected.  Apart from that, they are self-contained cats, usually more quiet than vocal and more often than not rather sedate.

The flat face of the Persian can lead to health problems, but it gives them an attractive look.  In the Middle East, they are widely known as “Shirazi cats” or, in Iran, as the “Shiraz cat”.

The art world and its patrons have long embraced their love for the Persian cat by immortalizing them in art, says the Wikipedia.  The one below is possibly the most famous, certainly the world’s largest cat painting:  The late 19th-century painting by Carl Kahler titled ‘My Wife’s Lovers’ measures 6-by-8.5-feet and shows plenty of Turkish Angoras and Persian cats.

Carl_Kahler_-_My_Wife's_Lovers
Carl Kahler: My Wife’s Lovers. 1891

 

Cultured Wednesday: Eckersberg’s Fra Romsdalen

What a beautiful valley, what a beautiful painting.

Now here’s a place to live in these days: Across the lake from town.  Looks like a lovely little cottage to me.  Talk about social distancing! (Click the picture for a closer look.)

johan_fredrik_eckersberg_1822-1870_-fra_romsdalen
Fra Romsdalen. Romsdalen is the valley (or dale) of the Rauma river in western Norway.

Johan Fredrik Eckersberg (16 June 1822 – 13 July 1870) was a Norwegian landscape painter and teacher at his own art school in Oslo.  He looms large in 19th-century Norwegian art as an important figure in the transition from Romanticism to Realism.

Every summer since 1848, he visited the most grand and picturesque spots in his native country Norway, making sketches from which he afterwards elaborated his pictures.  Obviously, Romsdalen with its magnificent mountain backdrop and the picturesque lake was one of them.

Cultured Wednesday: Diefenbach’s Fairy Dance

Diefenbach was an early ‘Lebensreformer’ and an amazing painter.

Karl_Wilhelm_Diefenbach_-_The_fairy_dance
The fairy dance, 1895

Karl Wilhelm von Diefenbach is probably primarily known for his involvement and role in the back-to-nature movement of the end of the 19th century, but today, we are primarily interested in his paintings.  Incidentally, he was by no means the only painter in the Lebensreform movement.

The paintings of Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach carry a special mood.  He painted beautiful landscapes, often the coastlines of Capri, Italy, where he spent the last 14 years of his life, but he also did a lot of mythical paintings, sometimes combined with self portraits.

Diefenbach was born in Hessen, Germany, on 21 February 1851 – incidentally, that’s the day after tomorrow 169 years ago, so Happy Birthday! – and was, according to the Wiki, “a pioneer of the naturist and the peace movements. His country commune, Himmelhof, in Ober Sankt Veit near Vienna (1897–1899) was one of the models for the reform settlement Monte Verità in Ascona. His ideas included life in harmony with nature and rejection of monogamy, turning away from any religion (although he was a follower of theosophy), and a vegetarian diet.”  After his commune had to close, he moved to Capri where he died on 15 December 1913.

The Fairy Dance (presumably ‘Feentanz’) does not contain a self portrait, I would assume, but it definitely has a mythical quality in the very choice of colors and the amazing dynamic of the dance, not to mention the motive.  Just notice the tree branches bending, and how the color of the fairies and their magic dance repeats on the rocky slopes of the mountains.

Click the picture above for a closer look.  If you go to Diefenbach’s Wikimedia Commons page, you will find a good many more paintings of his.

Cultured Wednesday: Barber’s Suspense

In this house we have three reasonably little girls and three reasonably big dogs.  It’s unbelievable that we haven’t had any of Charles Burton Barber’s paintings on our family website before!

Barber_suspense
Suspense, 1894

Charles Burton Barber (1845–1894), was a British painter who is mostly known for his portraits of children, particularly girls, and their pets.  Already during his lifetime, Barber was regarded as one of the country’s finest animal painters and received commissions from Queen Victoria to do paintings of her with grandchildren and dogs, as well as of the Prince of Wales, the later Edward VII, and his pets.

There are so many of his paintings that are just too cute, it was quite hard to choose one.  So here is one more, just for the joy of looking at paintings of little girls growing up with dogs.

charles-burton-barber-girl-with-dogs
This painting, titled ‘Girl with Dogs’, is another child and dog painting Barber painted towards the end of his life.

 

Cultured Wednesday: Carus’ Vollmond bei Pillnitz

Atmosphere. It bypasses cerebral knowledge and speaks instead to different levels within Man.

I remember this painting from way back when.  There is nothing more moody or enchanting than predominantly blue paintings with a little yellow…

Carl_Gustav_Carus_-_Vollmond_bei_Pillnitz
Vollmond bei Pillnitz

Carl Gustav Carus (3 January 1789 – 28 July 1869), German painter of the Romantic era from Leipzig, Germany, was a friend of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe‘s and, much like Goethe, a many-sided man: a doctor, a naturalist, a scientist, a psychologist, and a landscape painter who studied under Caspar David Friedrich.  In the latter capacity, we meet him today.  Many of his works are well worth attention, so the ones presented here are just meant as examples and incentives to look at Carus further.  I’ll add another one that I particularly like for its atmosphere.  It speaks of the Cistercians and reminds me of a place close to where I grew up, the Kloster Hude:

Carl_Gustav_Carus_-_Tintern_Abbey

According to the Wiki, Uncle Carl credited Carus with pointing to the unconscious as the essential basis of the psyche.  It reflects in his paintings, I dare say.

Although various philosophers, among them Leibniz, Kant, and Schelling, had already pointed very clearly to the problem of the dark side of the psyche, it was a physician who felt impelled, from his scientific and medical experience, to point to the unconscious as the essential basis of the psyche. This was C. G. Carus, the authority whom Eduard von Hartmann followed.

~ C.G. Jung

 

Featured:  Crop of Carus’ painting of a Stone Age Mound.

Cultured Wednesday: Aagaard’s Forests

Aagaard’s work is especially notable for his inclusion of historical architecture and ruins, which he often located in epic and romantic milieu.

Carl Frederik Peder Aagaard (born 29 January 1833 in Odense on the Danish island of Funen, died 2 November 1895 in Copenhagen) was an incredible Danish painter.  His paintings focus on Northern European forests and waterways, and they often include  historical buildings, even like the water mill or farm house in the example below.

spring forest

Tree-and-water lovers know this kind of light, and what it is like to sit by the brook or lake under the trees in spring, when the light falls through them just like this…  It was no big surprise to learn that Carl Frederik Aagaard had lived some time with his brother, who was a woodcutter, in order to improve his painting (and observation) skills.

Spring, and with it the kind of light depicted in the painting, is not quite here yet, but January is about over and soon we shall know if spring will come early the year, or if winter will linger for another six weeks.

 

Poesie: Rossetti’s The Woodspurge

This English poet with the Italian name was a painter as well as a poet.

Something to ponder…

The Woodspurge

The wind flapp’d loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walk’d on at the wind’s will,—
I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was,—
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flower’d, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me,—
The woodspurge has a cup of three.

~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828 – 1882)

Rossetti self portrait 1847
Self-portrait, 1847

Rossetti was as talented as a painter as he was as a poet.  Here’s a compilation of his paintings, set to Bach’s Concerto for 3 Harpsichords in C major.

Cultured Wednesday: Hacker’s Smithy in Winter

A native of Saxony, Hacker appears to have lived in Munich, Bavaria from 1862 onward.

Horst Hacker - Schmiede im Winter
Horst Hacker Schmiede im Winter, 1897

Not much can be found online about the German painter and art collector Horst Bernhard Hacker safe that he was born on 8 April 1842 in Plaußig near Leipzig, Saxony, and that he passed away on 18 December 1906 in Munich, Bavaria.  He saw the turn of the last century, a time since dubbed fin de siècle in the world of politics, art and culture, a period of degeneration as well as of hope for a new beginning, and also a period much discussed at the turn of the 20th century, as can be imagined.

How much or in what way Hacker was influenced by the ‘turn-of-the-century’ mood we do not know; his Schmiede im Winter (Smithy in Winter), which he painted in the late 19th century and which exists in at least two versions, can be viewed as representing the largely pre-technological world, an idyllic setting of the lonely homestead outside the village by the frozen stream.

Wikimedia has a few more of Hacker’s paintings listed, as well as his portrait as it appeared in the catalog of the Jahrhundertausstellung that took place in 1906.  Maybe his face can tell you something more about him, or you can choose to just enjoy his painting.  Clicking the painting above will take you to a much larger image that shows brush strokes and technicalities of the painting very well, if you are interested in such things.

Jahrhundertausstellung_1906
Horst Bernhard Hacker

Cultured Wednesday: Courbet’s Deer Taking Shelter in Winter

If one were to paint what is going on in the woods right now…

Something fitting with the season today:  Gustave Courbet, not with his (arguably most) famous self-portrait as The Desperate Man or any of his more notorious works, but with a landscape paintings: Deer Taking Shelter in Winter.

deer-taking-shelter-in-winter-1866
Gustave Courbet: Deer Taking Shelter in Winter (1866)

Courbet, born in 1819 in Ornans in France, bridged the gap between Romanticism and the Impressionist school of painters, that is, he went from a kinder look at and a kinder portrayal of the world to a more ‘realistic’ view, and hence, harsher paintings and a harsher lifestyle.

The above painting is from a phase when Courbet painted hunting scenes alongside ‘sensational works’, as the Wiki phrases it, which brought him both sales, from the former, and a safe place in all the gossip of Europe, from the latter.

Gustave Courbet died on the last day of 1877 in Switzerland at the age of 58.

Personally, I don’t care for the sensational stuff, but his Deer Taking Shelter in Winter I find delightful in its contrasts, both in the colors and the portrayal of the deer.  A scene you just might walk into if you go out hiking these days.  Don’t forget your orange vest, though, just so you’re not mistaken for a deer yourself!

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