Felix Schlesinger - Wie die Alten sungen... (As the Old sing...)
Wie die Alten sungen... (As the Old sing...)
Oil on canvas. 60 x 74 cm.
Signed lower left: F. Schlesinger.
This painting's title is based on a traditional motif deriving from the Dutch proverb “Soo de ouden songen, soo piepen de jungen” (as the old sing, so pipe the young) which has been adopted by various Dutch and Flemish painters throughout the 17th century. The saying refers to the way in which young people learn by imitating their elders. Alongside Meyer von Bremen, Felix Schlesinger was among the most popular painters of children in 19th century Germany. His works were internationally sought after and avidly collected by his contemporaries, especially in England and the United States. Following his training at the Düsseldorf Academy, Schlesinger lived for several years in Paris before settling in Munich in 1862.
The present work is a large and well-composed example of Schlesinger's characteristic style. He depicts a young girl binding a garland of evergreens in a peasant household. A boy in the background makes a bouquet with flowers strewn on a table upon which the youngest child sits and sings along with her grandmother. A fourth child stands beside her with hands clasped in prayer whilst a pair of rabbits in the foreground, a dog in the right edge of the painting, and the figure of the proud father smoking his pipe in the left corner complete this idyllic family scene.