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Carl Spitzweg - The Everlasting Bridegroom

by Alexandra Tuschka

A young man hands a bouquet of flowers to a dark-haired beauty. You can see a typical Biedermeier environment: small, winding and decorated alleys, signs on the wooden facades of the buildings, bourgeoisie cavorting in the streets and leaning out of the windows to watch the scene. The spire of a church appears in the background. The sun falls diagonally into the picture from the right. Immediately the beloved steps out of the leafy gate to meet the humble admirer. She has placed the two water jugs at her sides to receive the flowers. The man, on the other hand, has respectfully taken off his hat. What will transpire on the steps of the patrician house? Will his courtship be successful? Should he have put a little more effort into choosing the flowers? - The title "The Eternal Marriage Man" forebodes bad things to come.

The painting was created in 1860, when the short era of Biedermeier was already over. In this respect, Spitzweg could be described here as a "history painter" who created an exemplary Biedermeier scene from memory, which probably hardly took place in this form.

But a Spitzweg would not be a Spitzweg if a small humorous allusion had not been hidden in the picture. On the right, the man staring out of the window is, according to the sign next to him, "Neiderl, der Kleidermachermeister" - a telling name, for the envy the man feels in this situation. The figure of Roland at the fountain in the background also seems to be a persiflage of the front scene of carrying water. Another sign also tells us the identity of the upper lady in the window - Adele Schalusy. I wonder if she too would like to be young and beautiful again.

This painting by Spitzweg may be the best known, along with The Poor Poet and The Bookworm, and is considered the epitome of Spitzwegian art. Due to its popularity even during his lifetime, Spitzweg made numerous copies.

Carl Spitzweg - The Everlasting Bridegroom

Oil on canvas, c. 1860, 48 x 27.5 cm, Villa Hügel in Essen, Germany


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