petrusplancius (petrusplancius) wrote,

Menzel and his sister Emilie

I notice that we have had quite a few pictures of artists' wives and sisters, and it might be a good idea to make that a deliberate theme, because not only do such pictures often have a special feeling but they can also be very revealing about an artist's character. This is Menzel's oil-sketch of his sister Emilie lying asleep in 1848.

Here she is just helping him out by modelling a costume.

But this one is full of personal feeling.

Menzel at home with his brother and sister in 1845. After his father had died when he was 16, he had supported his mother, brother and two younger sisters by his work as an illustrator and later as a (largely self-taught) painter. He was a strange-looking man who was only 4 feet 7 inches (1.40m) tall, and he never married, living intially with his mother and siblings, and then close to his sister Emilie after she married and his mother had died. These two were evidently the main focus for his emotional life. I don't know what happened to his other sister; his brother apparently died when still quite young.

A photograph of Menzel.

Emilie standing beside the piano in 1866, looking pensive.

His best-known picture of her, standing in the doorway of the parlour when they were still living together in 1848, with his mother sewing in the background. He was always wonderfully good at conveying the effects of different types of lighting in interiors.
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