Cultured Wednesday: Diefenbach’s Fairy Dance

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

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: Böhmer’s Autumn Woodland

Heinrich Böhmer liked his woods, especially in the fall, it seems.

heinrich-boehmer - Edited.jpg

Heinrich Böhmer, born in Düsseldorf in 1852, was a German landscape painter, “best known for his immaculately rendered and realistic landscape paintings of the dense woods of Germany”, they say on artnet.  He was a prolific artist, producing dozens of small oil works.  In a typical Germanic manner, he focused on the emotional quality of the forest: He didn’t see board feet when he looked at trees.  Böhmer died in Germany in 1930.

Remember Tolkien vs. Ayn Rand.

Cultural Wednesday: Junghanns’ Plowing Farmer

Julius Paul Junghanns (1876-1958) became most famous for portraying the reality of rural life.

Today’s featured artist painted primarily animals – farm animals, that is, and their farming families.

Junghanns Pfluegender Bauer 2

Julius Paul Junghanns, born on 8 June 1876 in Vienna, was the son of Saxon parents, and he grew up in Dresden, Germany.

Junghanns studied painting in Dresden and Munich, where his time with Heinrich von Zügel impressed and motivated him the most, it appears.  Having studied under von  Zügel also helped his career, for his teacher suggested him for a post as the professor of painting at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the department for animal and landscape painting.  That was in 1904, when Junghanns was only 28 years of age and freshly married, very fittingly, to Maria Buchner, the daughter of a veterinarian.  She also happened to be the granddaughter of Johann Dominicus Quaglio who was the most significant German romantic painter, engraver, stage designer, and architect, and part of the large Quaglio pedigree of Italian artists involved in architecture, indoor fresco decoration, and scenography for the court theaters.

Junghanns’ paintings were very popular in his day, and his career was only interrupted two times, once when he was drafted into WWI, and once in 1945, when his professor-ship in Düsseldorf ended and he needed about four years to recover from a personal crisis.  In both cases he was able to eventually pick up his career again, and when he died on 3 April 1958 in Düsseldorf, he was 82 years old and full of days.

Calling himself Pictor antiquus at time (that is, Old Painter), Junghanns won international renown and his paintings can be seen in many places today.  Here in the USA, you will have to go to Pittsburgh, Chicago, or Boston to see his art.  In Europe, his work can be seen in art galleries in nine different German cities as well as in Vienna, London, Madrid, and Antwerp.

Here is another variation of the theme of the plowing farmer.  I surely like the way he portrays man and beast living and working together as a team, and the dynamic of his paintings.

Junghanns Pfluegender Bauer 1

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