Sonntag, 31. Januar 2016

Memories on Adolph Menzel - Carl Johann Arnold, part II

Second part of my translations of Menzel's student Carl Johann Arnold:

Memories of Carl Johann Arnold Part II:

In the next year, in 1847, it became possible for my father as chairman of the hessian Kunstverein* (*ChSch "Since the beginning of the 19th century, Kunstvereine (member based art societies with exhibitions spaces) are the most important institutions for the production, exhibition and communication of contemporary art in Germany. Today there are over 250 Kunstvereine, some of them being big exhibition spaces…" ) to obtain a bigger comission for Menzel. 
One expected to bring a big oil painting to it's execution and Menzel chose a preliminary sketch of the „Meeting of Gustav Adolf and his wife“ as a theme.

Adolph Menzel, oil study "the Meeting of Gustav Adolf and his wife“

Because the disposable money wasn't enough for a huge oilpainting and furthermore a subject from the hessian history was preferred, one eventually agreed in comissioning Menzel with a Karton („cartoon“) with lifesized figures ,which should show the entering of Sophie von Brabant with her little son in Marburg. 
On a sidenote: Menzel did buy it back later again from the Kunstverein.
The price was set to 800 Taler. Menzel agreed and arrived with a lot of prestudies in August at our place in Kassel. My father had made arrangements before his arrival, and had allready reserved a big room within our house at Wilhelmshöher Platz 4 and brought a canvas about to be stretched along the complete long side of the room.

drawing by C.J. Arnold: Menzel, working on the Kassel Karton

Before the work should begin there had to be studies been made of the territory in Marburg as well as the characteristic shwalmian(?*) (*ChSch: in German it's „schwälmisch“- a local kind of people in Hessen, here as an attribute – couldn't find a proper translation) type of peasants.

Adolph Menzel, study of a hessian peasant, 1847

 I was very delighted that Menzel took me with him, where I had to busily study with him. Above all he was fascinated by the magnificent building of the Elisabethkirche, after which he did, during very high temperatures, a drawing. Then it was the turn to draw the inside, the many grand woodcarvings, funerary monuments, sculptures, eventually the archive, to make it short, the few days that were reserved for our stay just flew by and it had to be thought about our return journey, as reluctantly as it was.

the Elisabethkirche, 1847

Statues of Elisabethkirche, 1847

Statues of Elisabethkirche, 1847

After returning to Kassel Menzel began immediately to execute the work. All necessairy costumes were gathered , as well as modells, as which the three of us siblings often had to assist as well. To not tire too much on the huge painting he also did other works inbetween and painted several portraits in pastells and oils. Thus the portrait of my father under lamplights in oils, then mine, the portraits of my two sisters and the french legation councilor v. Rothan came into being.

drawing by C.J. Arnold,: Menzel working on the portrait of Carl Heinrich Arnold

Portrait of Carl Heinrich Arnold, oil, 1847

Portrait of Carl Johann Arnold, pastells, 1847
Portrait of Caroline Arnold, pastells, 1847
Portrait of Friederike "Frtitzchen" Arnold, pastells, 1847

Because I took riding lessons during that time I had to pose for the riders in the picture and executed the several poses at the riding school. In the evenings we often went to the theatre and visited concerts. As well in our family music was played a lot, and here Menzel got to know the famous composer Louis Spohr, who delighted him through his ingenious playing on the violin. Through these muscial evenings he was inspired to create several ink drawings. Because of all these works inbetween and manyfold socialities the completion of the Karton was strongly affected, thus the initially planned eight weeks turned into the same amount of months so that Menzel had to extend his stay with us from the beginning of August 1847 till the end of March 1848, before the painting was finished. Out of this he wrote underneath a drawing that he did for my sister for Christmas: „by Menzel, who is still around“. Because I shared the room with him it also happened that I saw Menzel, when I woke up suddenly, in front of me, while he was drawing after me saying: „You just woke up five minutes too early!“
Oftentimes I watched that he quickly noted a special lighting or movement, no matter how late it allready was. Menzel was overly anxious about fire and lights and he always did walk through his room and the atelier in the dark, he examined as well the sleeping room elaborately, watching underneath the bed wether somebody was hiding there, which became a second nature to him; so much that he even lifted up clothes and towels that lay on the ground. Such a process of controlling took him quite a while during which he presumably must have been thinking on totally different things but I forcefully had to surpress myself to not burst out into loud laughter which he surely would have taken amiss. On the other hand he often responded to jokes , and thus he once drew himself into my sketchbook with him pulling faces.
As evidence for his enormous certainty in drawing it might be mentioned that he cut out lifesized heads out of paper without drawing a single stroke which then worked perfectly as silhouettes.
A painter, Professor Grimm, had finished a huge oilpainting, the „Mohrentaufe*“ (CHSCH.: * „Mohr“ - an oldfashioned word for a dark skinned african, although it originally does not have a negative meaning the notion itself is today associated with the times of colonialism and thus out of use. „Die Mohrentaufe“ means „the christening of the black african man“) and asked Menzel for his opinion. He took me with him and we stood very long in front of the painting, without Menzel saying a word. Then he suddenly asked who'd painted the oilstudy of a head that hung at a wall nearby. Grimm replied that he had painted it in Rome – Menzel then: „Please listen: The thing is excellent!“ and made his excuses without a comment on the painting.
The Karton eventually was completed and was enthusiastically accepted by the Kunstverein, the price of course wasn't in relation to the efforts so that he asked the board of directors for extra payment. My father obtained to Menzel's great joy another 400 Taler. Thus this comission found a satisfying balancing for all sides. 

the completed Kassel Karton

Menzel now returned to Berlin at the end of March, arriving during the last days of the revolution, which he depicted elaborately to my father within an eight pages long letter.
After that stormy and moving time Menzel came to rest again to start thinking on the execution of his bigger works on the life of Frederic II.
After I had studied for two years in Antwerp I came on Menzel's advice and wish at the beginning of 1853 to Berlin, to live and work together with him.

drawing by C.J. Arnold, Menzel his brother Richard and his sister Emilie in Berlin

I found him busy with a huge painting, „the battle at Hochkirch“, at the same time he worked on a commission for Ravené, a painting where Frederic II is examining a new built house and is welcomed by a family, a famous painting* (*ChSch: both were lost in WW II, in the special exhibition in the alte Nationalgalerie they show them as orginalsized b/w prints). 
Because of his very own character the working process was pretty much prolonged. When he found the modells he'd comissioned to pose for his painting in the early morning in an interesting lighting or pose he would firstly do studies or quick notes after them. It is true that Menzel did require great endeavours from his modells, often till total exhaustion, but at the same time he was very grateful. He once had a soldier sitting on a wooden modell of a horse, all of a sudden the man fainted and slided from the back of the horse to the ground, but before he did run after a glass of water Menzel quickly noted with a few strokes the (fallen) position of the soldier. Those and comparable situations might have been the origin of many exaggerated stories.
drawing by C.J.Arnold, Menzel studying a modell
Because Menzel did never leave a chance out to collect interesting studies and impressions it happened that he, as he wanted to take a footbath, painted a lifesized study of his foot and thus forgot the original purpose. (…)

a later oil sketch of Menzel's foot from 1876

In his younger years Menzel was often distressed by spasmodical blackouts, which he also mentions in a letter to father from 1836* (*ChSch: I wonder wether Menzel suffered from epilepsy, but I didn't find that mentioned in his biographies nor wether his medically decreed cure in 1861 in Bad Freienwalde has to do with increased attacks of that very phenomenon) Even later, as I witnessed it myself, such attacks occurred ore often, especially after mistakes in his diet.If possible he dissimulated them to not unsettle his siblings. One day he had to be carried home from the streets, around the corner of Jerusalemer Straße, which terrified his family members. In later years, when he had wassailed bravely under given circumstances of festivities he stayed luckily unoffended by this phenomenon. (…)

the original drawings of Menzel by Carl Johann Arnold are to be seen in the special exhibition "I Menzel" at the märkisches Museum in Berlin

the Portrait of Carl Heinrich Arnold, Menzel's sutdy of his foot as well as another oil sketch that shows Carl Johann Arnold drawing at Menzel's home can be seen in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin

Montag, 25. Januar 2016

Memories on Adolph Menzel - Carl Johann Arnold, part I

2016 is the 200th anniversairy year of Adolph Menzel. I would thus like to take the opportunity to post a couple of translations of original german sources of letters and statements of friends and acquaintances that I did for my friend James Gurney in preparation of a book on Adolph Menzel.

I will start with the memories of Carl Johann Arnold, the son of Menzel's close friend and fosterer Carl Heinrich Arnold.

Carl Johann Arnold is one of the few art students that Menzel instructed personally and who himself became a painter.

"Gallows Humor", 1873, Carl Johann Arnold

Carl Johann Arnold

Memories of my living together with Adolph Menzel, part I

With the following I don't want nor can I follow the intention to deliver a full biography of A.Menzel, of which there already have been published a lot of encompassing ones and many will as well in future times.
I was lead to write down the below-mentioned to pass down some interesting episodes from his starting time to the posterity to redound to the characterization of his originality, there's relatively little reported from those days, as well as to adjust some exaggerations and falsehoods.
What I am writing down here shall above all be given truthful, with no frills and without own additions, only through this my notes might presumably be of a special interest.
In the Winter of 1833/34 my father met for the first time together with Adolph Menzel during an evening drawing after nature, which was organized by several Berlin artists. He pretty soon recognized him as a very talented and most ingenious young man, who gained his whole interest. After he had inquired on his financial circumstances he found out that they were of the utmost modesty.
(…here follows a short description of Menzel who's father had passed away and left him caring for the daily bread for his mother and two siblings)...)
My father then invited Menzel to visit him and to advice him with words and deeds and as well to introduce him to influential persons who might be of use to him. At that time we were living at Monbijouplatz 10 I., where father used to have a big factory for wallpapers.
At our home it was always an agile and sociably coming and going which, as I presume, attracted Menzel very much and he thus became a common and always welcomed visitor.
Especially on sundays, in the evening, when many of the then best artists and other important persons as Eduard Magnus, Schinkel, Rauch, sculptor Drake, Eduard Meyerheim, Prof. Hotho, General von Radowitz and others would gather, where then a lot of music was played and the mood was bright and harmless. In this circle Menzel was now introduced and could make new connections and acquaintances. My father did as well have a rich collection of drawings, copper engravings and etchings, among others drawings of the Russian painter von Reutern, which Menzel could study now – and of which he did many a copy. -
My father induced Menzel, who had only been drawing up to that point, to study oil painting and taught him the first handling of the technique, for he had studied two years in Paris under David and was pretty skilled himself. Menzel copied now as a start the self-portrait of Frans Hals, a broadly painted and because of that greatly suited picture, which agonised Menzel very much and it became very hard for him to stick with it. He was painting in a backroom of our living room, which was set up for him to paint, but whenever it was possible he preferred to talk to my mother or my sisters. (…Arnold describes how he once got blue (Prussian blue) paint in his beard, didn’t get it off and because of that had to shave his beard off and didn’t come painting for over two weeks, after that Menzel firstly was shagged off from oil painting and then pretty caught up with his commissions on Goethe’s “Künstlers Erdenwallen”, the “five senses” and others...)
Although the situation of Menzel had much improved within three years he still had to strive hard and had to work long till in the early morning hours. Now a sudden change took place that my father had to settle to Kassel to take over the wallpaper factory of my Grandfather, a turn that Menzel very much regretted, as his letters vitally described. He was dedicating a beautifully and deeply sensed inked drawing to us, depicting the lamenting Berolina, sitting on a Lotosflower, surrounded by singing children and a choir while angels are sending cloudbursts from heaven’s gates.
Now there’s a longer gap to my memories. I remember that my father had a vivid written correspondence with Menzel* but as a child of seven years I didn’t give too much attention to it.
I remember the great joy we had when two pictures arrived from Berlin which were Adolph Menzel, painted by Magnus, and Magnus drawn by Menzel, both as whole figures in a small format.

the painter Eduard Magnus drawn by Adolph Menzel (1841)
the young Adolph Menzel painted by Eduard Magnus (1841)

As a joyous surprise Menzel came in 1841 to visit us in Kassel which he didn’t know up to that point. Because I then was a boy of twelve years I was able to show him the surrounding and all sights of the town. The beautiful Wilhelmshöh with the Habichts-forest, where we watched wild game in the evenings, then we did make wanderings to Wilhelmsthal, an excellently conserved little castle from the rococo, which fascinated him overly. The greatest attraction of course was the Kassel painting gallery.
During this time he did some portrait drawings in pencil. Unfortunately he couldn't extend his staying with us over a span of several weeks, for in Berlin there were already new commissions and projects waiting for him, above all the famous work on Frederic II with the text by Franz Kugler. (…)
In the year of 1843 my sister visited family Menzel, on this occasion the outstanding portrait of her came into being, a lifesized Kniestück

At the same time I started to deal with painting for myself and thus Menzel dedicated more time towards me and my progress.
We had to send him a lot of studies and works by me, until he proposed to my father in 1846 to send me to him to Berlin, where I then stayed for three months and had to work diligently. He praised very little and was very hard in his criticism. We worked till late at night and thus I was oftimes close to starving and was wishing with great desire for supper. But when his sister, while she was calling us repeatedly to come to table, was standing in an interesting lightsituation there was firstly made a study after her, which again took a longer while.

This intensive working time was all of a sudden interrupted by the abrupt illness of Menzel's mother, followed after a short time by her death. Menzel was connected to his mother in deepest love and admiration and this stroke of fate got very hard on him.

In these sad days of course I couldn't stay with the Menzel's and was heartily accommodated at Professor Fritz Drake's place. To deflect them from those sad moods a bit I was quartered back after eight days, where then after a while and bit by bit a more quiet and somewhat bright atmosphere came into being. In this time of my staying with him Menzel was without intermission working on the illustrations of the works of Frederic II and the illustrations of his army. Although he did work hard during the whole day it didn't bother him to stay up late and read throughout half of the night.
One time he found a long expected book on Frederic the Great waiting for him in which he deepened so much that he didn't take off his hat and Paletot, reading until the morning dawned. 
 He came into the sleeping room when I woke up in the morning. On Christmas I returned home. 
The oilpainting “Die Störung” was exhibited for the first time ((at the) Academy). 
Adolph Menzel, "the disturbance"

To study the candle light accurately he had constructed a tiny parlour with a small piano and two little lights and as well a tiny dressed puppet. He already begun the painting in 1843, on the first sketch a young lady is walking up and down in the room, later he changed his idea into an unexpected visit in the background. (…)

*the main body of Menzel’s letters from the 1830’s/40’s is between Arnold and Menzel.

Donnerstag, 21. Januar 2016

Caspar David Friedrich paintings on display again

After three years of restauration the two most important paintings of german romanticism by Caspar David Friedrich are on display again in the alte Nationalgalerie.

Caspar David Friedrich, Selfportrait 1810
Up to seven layers of old varnish had to be removed according to supervising restaurator Kristina Mösl.
Here you see the two paintings before the restauration with their "famous" "ancient" yellow tint, especially in the Abbey in the Oakwood

But also in the Monk by the Sea

In this article by the Berliner Morgenpost you can scroll between the restaurated and the yellowed condition.

But not only the old layers of varnish were a difficulty: the paintings had even been treated with a pressing iron in 1906 to glue them to a second layer of canvas. The hot iron left damages on both paintings.

Kristina Mösl could proof during the restauration that the canvas for both paintings came from the same roll of cloth, which supports the idea that Friedrich intended them as a pair (both paintings were painted between 1808 and 1810).

Furthermore it was found out per infrared that Friedrich painted over three already layed in ships in "the Monk by the Sea" to underline the loneliness of the monk.

In a telecast by the Tagesschau there's a short glimpse of those infrared scans.

As the director of the Alte Nationalgalerie, Philipp Demandt explains:"we want to get up close to the old Caspar David Friedrich".

A small theme based exhibition accompanies the return of the two paintings and can be visited
from Tuesday-Sunday 10 A.M.- 6 P.M. thursdays 10 A.M. - 8 PM. till May 22nd,
Alte Nationalgalerie, Bodestr.1-3.

Sonntag, 17. Januar 2016

Drawing from nature with children

On Saturday I took my kids Kai (10) and Benny (7) to join me drawing with the Urban Sketchers in the cast collection of the ancient world.

I was amazed of how long they could sit still and keep focused.

bearded man, Benny

Herakles, Kai

Laokoon Group, Kai

Pankratianist, Christian

Horse, Kai

picture of Georg Weise copied by Benny

Mittwoch, 13. Januar 2016

Hauptstrasse 155...

Today I took a walk to Hauptstrasse 155, which is quite close to where we live.
It's the house where David Bowie used to live from 1976 to 1978.

It was a very touching moment with many people dropping by to lay down flowers, letters or to light candles.

Thank you David Bowie! For everything you gave to the world!

Montag, 11. Januar 2016

New Year's Concert in the Natural History Museum

The visit of the new year's concert in the dinosaur hall of the natural history museum became a dear tradition for me.
The hall does not only have great accustics, but to listen to classical music among dinosaurs has something magical about it.
Next to that I think drawing in a concert is an awesome exercise to push outside your comfort zone. :-)

This year we heard several pieces for vibraphone and marimbaphone as arrangements for harp, viloine and viola.

Sonntag, 10. Januar 2016

cast collection of the ancient world in Berlin

the so called "Juno Ludivisi" inspired especially in the late 18th century artists like Winckelmann and Goethe. Since the late 19th century more and more scientists assumed that the colossal bust portraits rather a historic character than the etruscian/roman deity Juno (goddess of marriage). Comparisons with portraits on coins suggest that it might be Antonia Minor (36 B.C. - 37 A.D.), niece of Augustus and mother of the emporer Claudius
I decided to especially train harder on the control of values in my further studies to improve also my coloured work.
One of the greatest places to do that is the cast collection of the ancient world in Berlin.

The collection invites especially artists and art students to use the space for their studies.
The entrance is free.