Art In Munich
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
ALL roads in Munich lead to a gallery, and art reigns supreme. Indeed it is one of the great art centers of Europe, and there are pictures to the right of one and pictures to the left of one, while every other shop has copies of the works in the galleries until the subjects become well known even to those who have eyes but see not.
The prince and the peasant, the jovial cabman and the bare-headed maid stand together before an artist's work and discuss its merits from all points of view; and the masses are so familiar with the great paintings, each one feels he has a share in them, and swells with pride when any one praises them. It is amazing to see them linger before a window puzzled to decide which to buy—if they had the money!
Pinakothek is the Greek word for repository of art, and in the Old Pinakothek are kept the old master-pieces. Probably the most popular subject is Murillo's
"Beggar Boys," but Durer's "Apostles" and the head of himself, the famous Rubens, with a number of Carlo Dolci's, Titian's, Raphael's, and Rembrandt's make the gallery, in spite of the disputable Corregios, a veritable treasure house of art.
In the new Pinakothek are the modern works and here, of course, the German school is shown to its best advantage. The Kaulbachs, young and old, are from Munich, and their wonder_ ful pictures are in every room, from the great "Destruction of Jerusalem" of William Kaulbach, down_to the lovable children by Herman, the branch in which he excelled. One of the accompanying illustrations is his "Hermit," where some little tots have wandered to the door of a recluse, but are too amazed at the shrieks of a bird to venture any further in that direction! The natural expression he gets on a child's face has endeared him to every-one in Munich.
Lenbach, who, died in May, 1904, was their greatest portrait painter, and who does not know his "Bismarck," the man of blood and iron? There was once an artist who told his sitter that in doing a portrait he tried to have the face express all the incidents of the life, whereupon the man quickly exclaimed: "Oh, don't paint in the lie I once told my mother!" This is the kind of work Lenbach did, and it is astonishing how with a few dark colors, in which the browns usually predominate, he could get a likeness that tells a whole life story. He differed from most artists in preferring to work at night, and in his studio there were many electric lights arranged for carrying on the work after daylight. He lived in a most artistic Italian villa here, filled with curios, and his studio was formerly opened to visitors, but during his long illness it was closed and many then realized the painting days of the far-famed Franz von Hagenbach were over.
Defregger paints scenes from the Tyrol that would put any pessimist in a good humor.- He was a Tyroler himself, and first drew a bank-note so perfectly that the villagers declared the boy should have a chance at art, and from that day he walked forth into fame. His villa here shows the money that' can be made by painting—IF' ONE 1 S A DEFREGGER. The accompanying pictures are two of his works. One, "The Sick Dog," is his latest, and in such favor all Munich is carrying home copies of it. You see the children have bethought them to carry their pet to the animal doctor, and in answer to the little girl's ring, the angry face of the physician peers through the door pane and the small boy who sees it, is speech-less with terror, knowing there is trouble ahead, but the little mother thinks only of the doggy which she wraps up with anxious care, lest he take cold before the doctor can relieve him.
The other Defregger called "The Courting," shows that a timid youth has brought his father for support, to .go before to prepare the way, for his own strength is so fast oozing away that all he can do is to clutch awkwardly the little bouquet. The girl's mother rises hospitably at their entrance, but the beloved one only giggles and takes it as a huge joke, while her sisters are much entertained by such a pleasant diversion.
Grutzner's merry old monks always crime in for their share of admiration; in Makart's "Gifts of Earth and Water," one sees color running riot, and his rich reds make his pictures entirely different from other artists. Stuck is the man for faddists, and his conceptions are so wi.°rd, so bizarre and terrible, one cannot help thinking he crust have had some ghastly dreams. His "Sin" in the New Pinakothek represents a woman with eyes that burn and glow, her black hair draped about her adds to the intensity of her expression, and a great serpent coiled over her shoulder completes a picture that is as strikingly wonderful as it is repulsive. Many pictures have been taken from the walls for the St. Louis Exposition, and though one misses them here like absent friends, it is gratifying to know Munich added her quota to the German exhibit.
The Academy is one of the best places in the world to receive instruction, and art schools are legion. In the Crystal Palace an annual exhibition is held, while the Artists' Association has now a permanent display in its quarters in the old museum. The Secessionists too are not to be outdone, and yearly display their progres§ in such impressionistic marvels one is reminded of the would-be art critic, who, wanting to say something and not knowing if the canvas before him was a landscape, figure, or marine, exclaimed: "What a delicious bit," a compliment vague enough to fit any subject.
Piloty, the great historical painter, lived here too, and his "Thusnelda in the Triumphal Procession of the Emperor Germanicus," and "Seni Before the Corpse of Wallcnstein" are two of Munich's most celebrated pictures, while his "Queen Elizabeth" in the Maximilianeum is almost as good as a personal encounter with the Virgin Queen. In this building there is a feast of great subjects: Richter's "Pyramid Builders," Schwoiser's "Henry IV. at Canossa," Kaulbach's "Coronation of Charlemagne," Schnorr's "Luther and the Diet of Worms," Kotzebue's "Peter the Great," and a dozen others.
Cornelius, by his frescoes, gave the impetus to Munich art, Schwanthaler helped it forward and the Bavarian electors and kings have been from early times the patron of artists, as their works in the royal palace indicate, for here the Niebelungen decorations by Schnorr, and Stieler's Bavarian court beauties on porcelain, once seen are never forgotten.
Olive Shreiner tells of a painter who used a color that no one else could mix and many artists' hearts were filled with envy at the wonderful red their rival had found, so that at his death all flocked to his rooms to discover his secret, and lo, on his breast was a bleeding wound and they went away in silence, for they realized that he had been painting with his own life's blood. That is the case with all masterpieces, for the artists put into them the best part of their lives, and no one knows the cost but themselves.