Thursday, May 27, 2021

Painting Monkeys as People

Gabriel Ritter von Max (1840-1915) painted satirical pictures of monkeys in human roles. He earned the nickname “Affenmaler,” (monkey painter).

For example here's a painting he did of two macaques as scholars. 

In the 19th century, many people were seeing live monkeys for the first time. The London Zoo opened in 1828, and the Philadelphia Zoo opened in 1874. 

There were also traveling performers with monkeys dressed as humans. Seeing animals up close in an era before wildlife films must have been a revelation. 

Charles Darwin's book "On the Origin of the Species" was published in 1859, which began to draw the connection between human and non-human primates.  

Von Max, Monkeys as Judges of Art, 1896

Von Max had monkeys as pets, too. He adopted his first capuchin monkey in 1870, and later: 

"he bred the animals at his Munich home near Starnberger Lake. He painted the monkeys in both living and deceased states; when the monkeys died, he positioned their bodies in specific poses and photographed them as material for later paintings. Von Max was fascinated with the link between humans and primates, an interest that aligned with the recent developments in evolutionary biology. Whereas the tradition in European paintings often associated monkeys with the vulnerabilities of humans, von Max humanized his subjects."
Source for quote. 
Wikipedia Gabriel Ritter von Max. He also painted spiritual subjects which deserve another post.

Book: Gabriel von Max


Robert Michael Walsh said...

Before the poker playing, bar drinking dogs of many kitsch paintings.

Steve Gilzow said...

The monkey on your shoulder — at the at the top of the blog — seems to be gazing at exactly the same angle as the scholar monkey on the left; trying to read the same page.

MerylAnnB said...

Cool! I assume the title of the book in the painting with the two macaques is in German ... wonder what it is, and how it fits into the scene...from the look of it, they've ripped out the center section of the book...

Simon said...

I've always loved the Brueghel's and Teniers monkeys.
I can never decide Which is the beter monkey renderer!Large.jpg