The Beggar Musician (Study)
Oil on balsa wood (cigar case wood). 26 x 9 cm.
This small sketch is a study for Spitzweg's eponymous small format work "Der Bettelmusikant" (41.1 x 12.9 cm) which is now housed in the Neue Pinakothek in Munich (inv. no. 8944).
As usual in a study, Spitzweg dispenses with details such as the lantern, wall mural, window frames, and shutters, but he also fails to include the man with a night cap who, in the final painting, glares downangrily at the musician from an upper floor window. The fact that this figure formed such an integral part of the finished composition indicates that Spitzweg wished to focus on other details in this sketch. He was obviously more concerned with how to integrate the beggar musician into the tonal fields of the ground and the architecture.
Wichmann writes in his expertise: “This loosely painted sketch displays the exceptional technique which Spitzweg adopted in the 1850s. [...] It is interesting to note [...] the clear demarkation between lighter and darker areas which Spitzweg applies brilliantly, making the clarinet player appear silhoutted against the pale colour of the wall and blended into the darker area on the left, whilst his shadow constrasts with the figure himself and binds him to the ground below.” (from the German).
The back of the sketch bears a hand-written notice by Richard Spitzweg confirming its authenticity: “I confirm the opposite painting: “Der Bettelmusikant”, flute player holding out his top hat to receive alms, painted on cigar wood, 25 ½ cm high, 9 cm wide, to be an authentic work made by my great-uncle Carl Spitzweg. Munich, 7th February 1924 Richard Spitzweg.” (from the German)
Adolf Alt, Munich, 14.2.1924 (no longer extant)
Dr. Siegfried Wichmann (written prior to 1999)
Spitzweg family collection. - Auctioned by Hugo Helbing, Munich, 14.2.1924, lot 648, illus. - Westphalian private collection. - Lempertz auction 771, 15.5.1999, lot 1469. - Westphalian private collection.
Wichmann, Siegfried: Carl Spitzweg. Verzeichnis der Werke. Gemälde und Aquarelle, Stuttgart 2002, p. 577, no. 1599 - Roennefahrt, Günther: Carl Spitzweg. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis seiner Gemälde, Ölstudien und Aquarelle, Munich, 1960, no. 1100. - Wichmann, Siegfried: carl Spitzweg, Der Bettelmusikant. Dokumentatio, Starnberg-Munich, R.f.v.u.a.K. 1996, p. 1ff. Bayr. Staatsbibl. München, inv. no. Ana 656 SW 138.
Exhibited in: "Carl Spitzweg", Stiftung Haus der Kunst, Munich, 24.1.- 4.5.2003. - Formerly on permanent loan to the Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (until 2019)