Carl Spitzweg - The Quartet
Oil on canvas (relined). 39 x 22 cm.
Monogrammed lower left: S in a rhombus..
Carl Spitzweg loved music. He was an enthusiastic music connoisseur and an experienced piano player. His younger brother Eduard was a music supply merchant and married two daughters of the Munich court violinist Johann Baptist Moralt one after the other. Detailed drawings of musicians or instruments are often found in Spitzweg's sketchbooks, and he dedicated several paintings to musical themes, of which the present painting is probably one of its most charming. The painting shows a male quartet at night in a courtyard partly brightly lit by moonlight. The singers, three viewed from the front and one in profile, enthusiastically serenade a revered lady from beneath her bay window. According to Wichmann, a second, privately owned version made after our painting of 1865-70, is broader in scale and does not have the extremely narrow portrait format so often chosen by Spitzweg that is so characteristic of our painting. In addition, our painting also shows the ambiguity of many of Spitzweg's works, the combination of opposites and tensions, of Biedermeier tranquillity and its humorous irony. Spitzweg, one of the best known and most popular German painters of the 19th century, thus stands on the one hand in the tradition of the Biedermeier whilst simultaneously pointing the way forward to modernity.
In the collection of Otto Spitzweg until 1917. - Galerie Caspari, Munich. - Auctioned by Christie’s, London, 11.10.1995, lot 62. - South German private collection.
Günther Roennefahrt: Carl Spitzweg. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis seiner Gemälde, Ölstudien und Aquarelle, Munich 1960, p. 256, no. 1086. - Siegfried Wichmann: Carl Spitzweg. Ständchen-, Serenaden- und Straßensänger-Bilder. Ein Beitrag zum musikalischen Spitzweg, Munich 1975, no. 27. - Siegfried Wichmann: Carl Spitzweg. Verzeichnis der Werke. Gemälde und Aquarelle, Stuttgart 2002, p. 563, no. 1559.