Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Jakub Schikaneder: Mood, Mystery, and Murder

Jakub Schikaneder (1855-1924) painted lonely figures in misty, twilight moods.

He was German-Bohemian, and he came from a family that was poor but they loved art. 

Jakub SchikanederMurder in the House, 1890
oil on canvas, 203 × 321 cm - 6 ft 8 x 10 feet 7 in
His painting "Murder in the House" created a sensation when it was exhibited. Visitors studied the evidence in the painting and debated how the girl died and who may have killed her.

The scene takes place at a specific location in the Jewish Quarter of Prague, where the city's poorest inhabitants lived. The young woman lies in a pool of her blood, but there's another pool of blood farther back and a bloody handprint on the wall of the arched passageway.

The group of onlookers show a variety of reactions: there's the shocked maid with clasped hands, the shopkeeper leaning forward, the young man pointing. Is one of them the murderer?

Jakub Schikaneder, study for Murder in the House
Schikaneder made several charcoal studies to work out the pose of the young woman.

In an age before television and movies, paintings captured the imagination of the public with some of the same themes of murder and drama that have always intrigued us.
Jakub Schikaneder is featured in the book Prague 1900: Poetry and Ecstasy

No comments: