Carl Spitzweg - The Yawning Monk
The Yawning Monk
Oil on paper, mounted on panel. 28 x 17.5 cm.
Although Carl Spitzweg displayed artistic talent from a very young age, according to his father's wishes he began an apprenticeship with the Königlich-Bayerische-Hofapotheke (Bavarian court apothecary) in Munich. He then began studying chemistry, pharmacy and botany at the University of Munich in 1830 and finished with honours. However, in 1833 he decided to give up his career as a pharmacist to devote himself entirely to his passion for painting. He became a member of the Munich art association in 1835 and travelled to Dalmatia, Venice, Paris, London, Antwerp, Frankfurt and Heidelberg. He began making illustrations for the comical weekly illustrated “Fliegende Blätter” in 1844.
A second version of this work exists which is also published under the title “The Yawning Monk” (Der gähnende Mönch). Wichmann proposes this to be a second version, painted shortly after the prime which is illustrated in the catalogue raisonné. The preparatory sketch for this composition (pencil on paper, 14 x 18 cm) is found in Spitzweg's 1862 sketchbook.
“The Yawning Monk” belongs to a series of works illustrating the lives of various hermits, monks and holy men. The pieces depict neither loneliness nor melancholy, but rather represent the contemplative freedom that comes with an independent life. Under Spitzweg's finely nuanced light, the somewhat bare but bright interior becomes a place of calm, contemplation and security.
Large views in small formats like the present work were a result of Spitzweg's experimentation with avant-garde techniques during the 1860s. This piece was painted in 1870, making it one of Spitzweg's later works.
With a confirmation of authenticity and estate stamp of Otto Spitzweg (1843 - 1921), the artist's nephew, to the reverse.
Private collection, Germany (purchased from Pinkoffs art dealership, Berlin according to the previous owner). - Private ownership, Belgium.
Siegfried Wichmann: Carl Spitzweg - Verzeichnis der Werke, Stuttgart 2002, p. 331, here mentioned as the second version under no. 715. - Siegfried Wichmann: Spitzweg - Der eingeschlafene Einsiedler, Reihe für vergleichende und angewandte Kunstgeschichte, Wunsiedel-Holenbrunn 1988, p. 88. - Confirmation of the estate: Jens Christian Jensen: Carl Spitzweg - Gemälde und Zeichnungen im Museum Georg Schäfer, Schweinfurt 2002, p. 318-321.