Freitag, 26. Februar 2016

Memories on Adolph Menzel, Carl Johann Arnold part III

This is the last part in the series of Carl Johann Arnold's memories on Adolph Menzel.

After two years of living together with Menzel I was moving into my own studio and apartment. As often as possible I was still staying with Menzel's. Mostly at the evenings or on special occasions, where it was happy and comfortable and he participated willingly in jokes and conversations. Ofttimes appointments for further excursions would be made, e.G. to Potsdam, where journeys on the water, aligned with fireworks, which he especially loved, had been undertaken.
As I approached him once again at one evening, to ask for his advice on one of my works, I brought him a new piece, it was a deck of cards wherein I had composed every single card as a picture.
He lay them out before him, remained silent for a while and then turned to me saying: „there you did something admirable!“
And later, during dinner, he raised his glass offering to call each other informally by the forename*.
The card deck later became a possession of Empress Frederick.
In the meantime Menzel's sister was married to the musician Krigar, by whom there exist some beautiful compositions of songs and who acclaimed later the title as a director of music. Also his brother Richard married pretty soon and took on the photographic business of Gustav Schauer.
To not having to break with his daily habits and not to be pulled out of his artistic activity, Menzel stayed, despite her marriage, till his death together with his sister and built together with her and her husband a community.
That Menzel was supposed to be a so called misogynist, is, how I can say from experiences, never been the case.
He lead very gladly and ofttimes throughout the whole evening conversations with ladies, who could bind him intellectually in amicable entertainment. Thus he was vividly interested in a lady which lived in the same house as them, in Ritterstraße 43, the daughter of privy councilor Schaumann, who visited the Menzels on a daily basis.

Subsequently I would like to mention a matter, which is significant for Menzel's thoroughness in his
creating and for his energy. In his works he often depicted cavalry and everything that has to do with riding. To inform himself exhaustively on the matter he decided to learn how to ride by himself. 

study of a horse by Adolph Menzel,

Since I had already organized a riding lesson together with several colleagues, Bennewitz von Löfen, Spangenberg, P. Meyerheim, Feckert and others, he decided to participate herein.
We then rode weekly on several evenings (also with music), and funny was that the small excellency always chose instead of a small horse constantly a huge one, so that his legs wouldn't reach beyond the rim of the saddle. Everything went well so far, with exception of one time, when all of a sudden a „Halt!“ was commanded and Menzel was thrown over the neck of his horse, but could get a hold of the tail of the horse which went before his and thus came back into the saddle.
For the practical usage of those studies he couldn't find time though for new commissions of a new kind approached him.
In the first place he was busy for many years with the important commission by king William I. - to create the coronation in Königsberg as a huge monumental painting, as far as I know through recommendation of the at that time crown prince Frederic. 

preliminary coloured study of the coronation painting

As a studio the saloon of the Garde-du-Corps in the royal castle was prepared for him, so that the royals and aristocrats had a smooth entrance for sittings. 


For this (painting) many portraits were necessary which he executed all in watercolors and which have later been acquired by the royal national gallery.
Although he didn't appreciate being disturbed while working I was able to educate myself while witnessing the progress of this great work.

the coronation of king William I, Adolph Menzel, 1866

From that time on he presumably did not miss any festivity at the royal court, where I saw him often standing in a reveal or behind a curtain, how he was sketching his notes after certain characters, telling me that his main work will begin when he'd return home and everyone else went to bed.

the Ballsouper, Adolph Menzel, 1878

He painted several festivities, which don't need any further explanation since they are sufficiently known.
Out of this time date the many decorations and badges, which increased suchlike throughout the following years. 

The last celebration, which I experienced together with Menzel, was the one which the association of Berlin artists arranged to celebrate his seventieth birthday. We had to wait for over two hours for his appearance, for he was, as was commonly known, always unpunctual. (…)
Toast responded to toast and Menzel didn't let the opportunity pass to clink glasses with everybody.
Thus the festivity continued in the happiest mood and lasted till the early morning.

Soon my health condition forced me to leave Berlin and I settled down in Weimar.
My now following relationship with Menzel consisted merely of frequently visits in Berlin and
an exchange of letters up until into his last years.

A great joy was for me that as well my (son) Herbert, who lived himself as a painter in Berlin, found the most cordially accommodation with them and was able to raise glasses with him on Menzel's unfortunately last birthday.

It was a coincidence that it was given to my son to portrait Menzel on the deathbed.
And thus I close with the notations of my memories on our unforgettable great master and old friend of our family.

Weimar, June 1905

* in German there is a distinction (like in french: "tu" and "vous")  to address somebody in a formel "sie" (3rd person plural) or informal "du" (2nd person singular) way.

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