Carl Spitzweg - Interrupted Contemplation
Oil on canvas. 29.3 x 23.5 cm.
We see a path through a sunlit meadow lined with ripe corn, bushy shrubs, and red poppies. The corpulent, elderly village priest appears a little too warmly dressed for the summer's day in his sturdy shoes, buttoned up jacket, dark tailcoat and top hat, and he has a black umbrella clamped under his arm, which he probably won't be needing. He holds his breviary opened in his hand, but has been disturbed in his religious contemplation by two butterflies blithely fluttering around him. He looks up at them with indignation, and perhaps a little resignation, vainly attempting to disperse the mischief-makers with his walking cane. Spitzweg captures the idyllic everyday scene in his typical, unmistakeable manner with great affection and just a hint of satire.
Siegfried Wichmann gave this work the title “Memorierender Landpfarrer” (Village Priest Memorising his Sermon) and dated it to around 1840, contemporaneously to a group of seven works with the “Dangerous Passage” motif (Wichmann 2002, op. cit., no. 206-212). The group also features in this auction in the form of a drawing entitled “Dangerous Passage”, from a differing provenance, offered as the following lot.
Auctioned by Pfisterer, Freiburg 22.-23.3.1950, lot 561. - Lempertz auction 477, Cologne 15.4.1964, lot 270. - Henceforth in Rhenish private ownership.
Günther Roennefahrt: Carl Spitzweg. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis seiner Gemälde, Ölstudien und Aquarelle, Munich 1960, p. 279, no. 1285, illus. - Siegfried Wichmann: Carl Spitzweg. Verzeichnis der Werke. Gemälde und Aquarelle, Stuttgart 2002, p. 159-160, illus.