Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Poor Poet and Other Delightful Whimsies by Carl Spitsweg

The Poor Poet:

All poets write bad poetry. Bad poets publish then, good poets burn them.

Umberto Eco

The Poor Poet, Carl Spitsweg 

I recently found this painting looking for another painting- and fell in love with its gentle humour. 

It also fits the quote above so perfectly, because, as you can see, this poor poet has already tried to burn a pile of his poetry, and has some other poems ready for the fire, but has no fuel or matches to get a good blaze going! The thing in his mouth is his quill pen.

The painting is, of course, called "The Poor Poet" by Carl Spitsweg, 1808-1885. Spitsweg is considered one of the most important artists of the Beidermeir era in Germany.

So....who was Carl Spitsweg? I had never heard of him. Not surprising, as 19th C Eastern European artists were rarely emphasized in my art history classes in Fine Arts..

The Biedermeier era in Central Europe began as the middle-class grew and art began to appeal to more "common" sensibilities. This was between 1815 at the end of the Napoleonic Wars to about 1848. Although the term itself has a historical reference, it is mainly understood to refer to the literature, music, visual arts and interior design that flourished at the time.

Spitzveg was first a poet, and later wrote for satirical magazines. During a long illness, as a young man, he took up painting and clearly developed his gently mocking view of the world into his art. His later paintings and drawings are often humorous works. Many of his paintings show rather charming eccentrics that made me think of some favourite quotes that I keep in my files. 

The Bookworm:

"Be a little careful about your library. Do you foresee what you will do with it? Very little to be sure.But the real question is, What will it do with you? You will come here and find books that will open your eyes, and your curiosity, and turn you inside out and outside in." 
Ralph Waldo Emmerson

The Bookworm, Carl Spitveg

The Newspaper Reader:

“Newspapers are the Bibles of worldlings.
How diligently they read them!
Here they find their law and profits,
their judges and chronicles,
their epistles and revelations."

Charles H. Spurgeon

Newspaper Reader in the Garden Carl Spitsweg

The Writer and the Artist:

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under
trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means
a waste of time.

 J. Lubbuck 1834-1913 

The Writer Sharpening his Quill, Carl Spitsweg

The Artist by Carl Spitsweg

The Reader in the Park

I've never known any trouble than an hour's reading didn't assuage.
Arthur Schopenhaur

The Reader in the Park, Carl Spitzveg


The Alchemist:

                       “The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; 
                                they change the world into words.” 
                                                William H. Glass

The Alchemist, Carl Spitzveg

The Butterfly Hunter (for a final bit of whimsy!)

I dreamed I was a butterfly flitting around the sky; then I awoke. 
Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, 
or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man? 

Zhuang Zhou

This great purple butterfly
In the prison of my hands
Has a learning in his eye
Not a poor fool understands. 

William Butler Yeats.

The Butterfly Hunter, Carl Spitsweg