Carl Spitzweg - The nocturnal round

by Alexandra Tuschka


Spitzweg's paintings often touch the border of caricature , although the painterly quality of these works should not be underestimated. The "nocturnal round" is, like almost all works of the artist, a small format. In an undefined, but typical old German small town, the guards make their rounds. However, the people seem rather random, almost incidental, in this night piece.

The moon illuminates the scene and lights up the stone steps in the foreground of the picture, which lead past an inn onto a bridge. An orange fire blazes above the inn sign, contrasting with the brown and gray tones of the surroundings.

The soldiers' blue and white uniforms also contrast with the rest of the scene, even in the dark. Only the man walking ahead is almost in the shadows. Not only the loosened painting style reminds here of the lightness of a caricature . The subject is also cleverly realized, because the numerous soldiers appear completely uncoordinated. While the man in front already shows a slightly bent posture, the stouter captain behind him strides briskly and proudly with raised saber. A few more steps, and he kicks him in the hooks! At the foot of the stairs, more men are milling about, waiting to follow the two in a disciplined line.


Carl Spitzweg - The nocturnal round

Oil on canvas, ca. 1879, 32.4 x 54.2 cm, private collection