Carl Spitzweg - Death at the banquet
Death at the banquet
Oil on canvas. 31 x 54 cm.
With an estate stamp on the back of the canvas and a slightly damaged label with a confirmation of authenticity by Otto Spitzweg affixed to the stretcher dated “München 21. August [year missing]”. Wichmann (ibid., p. 324) lists two further confirmations by Otto Spitzweg (11.10.1913 & 08.02.1916) as well as an expertise by Adolf Alt.
Alongside his characteristic Biedermeier genre scenes and landscapes inspired by French plein air painting, Carl Spitzweg's fascinatingly diverse oeuvre also features Biblical motifs and allegorical depictions such as the present canvas. With his depiction of “Death and the Wealthy Man”, Spitzweg places himself in the long tradition of vanitas paintings, which were especially popular during the Baroque era. These works emphasised the transience of earthly things, reminding the viewer of the futility of riches and the brevity of life.
This work uses grisaille-like tones to depict the motif in landscape-format against an abstract architectural backdrop. Sitting at a table, the rich man is approached by a female figure as a second woman raises her glass. Below the rich man on the left, death in the form of a skeleton rises up from the depths to grasp his victim. Spitzweg prepared the composition of this painting in an oil sketch and a pencil drawing of the figures (found in his 1857 sketchbook).
Around 1927/28 in the Ludwigs-Galerie, Munich. - The Deutsch Collection, Munich. - Auctioned by Hugo Helbing, Munich, 12.05.1931, lot 140 (pl. 33). - Auctioned by Koller, Zurich, 22.05.1977.
Günther Roennefahrt: Carl Spitzweg. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis seiner Gemälde, Ölstudien und Aquarelle, Munich 1960, p. 206, no. 698. - Siegfried Wichmann: Carl Spitzweg. Verzeichnis der Werke. Gemälde und Aquarelle, Stuttgart 2002, p. 324, no. 692.