Sunday, April 22, 2012

Menzel's Brother

I find this combination of drawings immensely moving and inspiring.

Adolph von Menzel drew his brother Richard in 1848. One of his hands lies flat on a table, the other is closed, with his face resting against it. He has just combed his hair. His eyes are far away in thought. He is patient with his brother's request to hold still for a little while. Richard would have been accustomed to his brother drawing all the time.

Here is Richard again in 1860. He sits sideways on a chair, facing away, with his neck tie sticking out on one side and his hair on the other. He has grown a big mustache and the hair on top is thinner. His cheek seems a bit hollow.

 The third drawing shows Richard on his deathbed in 1865, just five years later. His hair is mostly gone now, his features are sharper, and there is a heavy growth of beard. His eyes are closed and sunken in death. The lines describing the white fringe of cloth move like a seismograph. 

Adolph lived for another forty years after Richard's death. He made these drawings only for himself -- no one saw his portfolios of thousands of drawings until after his own passing.


Poet Whale Studio said...

Moving drawings
Thank you for posting them

Caleb Cleveland said...

Choked up. I haven't drawn either of my brothers since high school; maybe I should do so before I miss my chance to record the men they've become.
Thank you.

jill polsby said...

Where do you find such wonderful things to teach us about. I look forward to your post each day because I know there's going to be something fantastic to think about for the rest of the day. This was the most wonderful story, with the last line being an absolute mind blower. Thank you.

adebanji said...

One of my best! I just love the way he draws! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Also incredibly sad that nobody was able to appreciate all that wonderful artwork during Adolph's life.

Christian Schlierkamp said...

Richard's work received a gold medal posthumuosly for his pioneering achievements in photographical reproduction of artwork, a field Adolph was very interested in, on the world exhibition in Paris in 1866, where Adolph went together with his sister in law and the befriended painter Paul Meyerheim.

When Richard showed a beginning interest in the new medium "photography" Adolph encouraged him a lot and later Richard was running a successful studio for photographical reprints.

Thanks for that very touching post, Jim!
Adolph Menzel didn't write a lot about his personal feelings, it's all in the drawings.

Enno Kleinert. Fine Art Portraitmaler und Marinemaler said...

Adolph von Menzel is the largest and most interesting German painter and sketcher at the turn of the century . His oeuvre of drawings is not only very extensive but also of exceptional quality. My favorite artists.

Enno Kleinert. Fine Art Portraitpainter