Failure individuals in ISC

The autonomy of the image: The painter Brabanzio

Extract from: Poetics and History. Christian and Jewish theology of history in Leo Perutz's historical novels.

Painting is silent poetry and poetry is
blind painting. Painting is poetry that you can see and
do not hear, the poetry is a painting that one hears and
does not see. These two or if you want
these two have exchanged senses.

Leonardo da Vinci, The Paragon

The novella clearly reflects the 'essence' of art - of fine arts and literature alike. The interpretation will show that the simultaneous thematization of both genres is not accidental insofar as each can only become significant by including the other. Only the communication of the two basic manifestations of literature and the visual arts - temporal extension on the one hand, timeless form on the other, word and image - allows the construction of the 'living form'

The novella develops this dialectic in different stages. First of all, the painter's introductory characteristics refer to the mediation of time and timelessness: as a 'tramp and vagant' (NA 146), he abandons himself to the flow of time without recognizing any fixed order, be it society or the guild-like painting schools . He

namely had his own views on the art of painting and did not want to obey the instructions of the master. In other respects, too, he was of a restless disposition, wherever he was he made rebellious speeches against the authorities [...] (ibid.).

Nonetheless, in his works he transcends time; but instead of referring to eternity in the sense of the 'masters', he captures the moment.

The Flickschneider was annoyed that his brother did not paint the honorable people and also not the Mother of God and the dear saints, but always only a few people and dissolute rabble [...] (NA 147).1

The action begins with Rudolf's interest in someone that happens to come to him (NA 147). The following reflection on the relationship between the fine arts and literature is heralded by the fact that Rudolf den painter

in the costume of a public ScribeSo in well-worn shoes and a shabby skirt, two quills and an inkwell in the belt and around the neck a chain with a medallion with the image of St. Catherine, who is the patron saint of all scribes (NA 148, emphasis on v. me),

visits his brother's tailoring workshop. Before the alleged scribe himself is included in the dialectic of writing and image, a constellation of people who are already present appears to him when he enters the workshop, which contains their elements in nuce (cf. NA 148f). The pictorial character of the situation - although it contains dynamic elements - is underlined by the fact that the action stops during the description of the picture. It is introduced with the sentence (NA 148) and concluded with: (NA 149). The momentary character of the picture also indicates the unity of the structure, which is only disturbed when Rudolf - and later Meisl - enters the workshop. The elements of the dialectic between timelessness and time, image and text, here initially represented by the brother couple painter and Flickschneider, have barely diverged in him.

The profession of the patch cutter is first of all because of the processing of fabrics as a metaphor for the production of Texts2 recognizable and thus diametrically opposed to his brother's profession. What he mends is the apparently defective totality, the connection of the 'whole', which the novel also intends to depict: (NA 148) For the tailor, the disruption of the connection of the 'whole' of his horizon seems to be manageable. His knowledge of the world is essentially limited to the trousers he patched and his own ailments.

(NA 160)

He complains to Rudolf about his stomach sickness:

(NA 149f)

In spite of this narrow horizon, not everything is unquestionably combined into a unit. His glasses, (NA 148), point to the change of perspective necessary to constitute such a naive worldview, and the 'whole' that he takes in the form of the Surtout spreads out in front of him, becomes more and more of a patchwork in the course of his activity. His extremities also form a dualism, the poles of which he alternately relates to one thing: (Ibid.) If the tailor represents a 'little world', the poles, which he combines while sitting on a stool, are already further apart for his brother . While the 'small world' of the one is spread out in front of him as a surtout, the other travels the 'big world' as a vagant in order to summarize it in the picture. The painter faces the world as a collection of scattered objects that he subjectively appropriates (NA 146). The situation in question in the tailor's workshop is also shaped by this contrast: the painter and his model, a (NA 149), initially form a subject-object opposition. The raftsman, whose real element is the river, i.e. here the unconscious devotion to time, does not come into its own when compared to the painter, neither in his everyday life nor in his claim to see his new Sunday coat depicted. Brabanzio forces him into a situation that he does not know how to cope with in order to be able to portray him alienated:

The painter had told him not to move, and so he feared that he might destroy or spoil something in the workshop with an awkward movement of his hands. But it was precisely this childishly awkward and somewhat tortured expression on the bearded face that the painter wanted to see and capture. (Ibid.)

The subject-object separation characteristic of the painter is carried over to his model as 'agony'. The (ibid.) Therefore sits (NA 148), while a stool is sufficient for the 'naive' tailor.

The picture of three people presented to Rudolf when he entered the workshop represents different levels of dialectic in which the multiplicity can be united to form a unity. The tailor's worldview, in which subject and object almost coincide, is followed by the painter's more problematic worldview. With the completion of the portrait, however, Brabanzio succeeds here in the - subjective - representation of the world in the image of the Vltava ripper, and with the reflection in the picture the 'trinitarian' constellation of Flickschneider, painter and Vltava ripper in the workshop joins the totality. Text and image are so directly related to one another in the brother couple that their mediation works. With the entry of Rudolf and Meisl, whose mediation takes place over his head, the painter's death-ending tragedy begins.

After Brabanzio finished the portrait and showed the disappointed Vltava ripper the door, Rudolf remarks

a small picture painted in watercolors [...] that was attached to the wall. It represented the very little garden that the emperor had recently walked through without looking at him. There wasn't much else to be seen in the picture than a blackthorn bush and a defoliated tree with thin branches, a puddle of snow and the slats of a fence, but there was a magic over it all that could not be expressed in words - wintry melancholy and a premonition of spring or perhaps just that grace that is sometimes peculiar to poverty and inconspicuousness. (NA 151)

The painter's talent for giving meaning to an everyday situation is also evident in this watercolor: before the emperor enters the workshop, he leaves (NA 148). It is precisely this unappealing garden that has a meaning in the picture that is due to the arrangement of its elements, the composition of the picture, without being laid out in the garden itself. The emperor crosses this while recognizing the watercolor as (NA 152). In the composition, in turn, opposites are related to one another, which reflexively close to form a totality: the blackthorn bush refers to life,4 the defoliated tree to death,5 the slats of a fence on the border erected between them. By relating these three elements to one another within the closed frame, the picture abolishes their separation at the same time; the unity of opposites represented in this way, however, is reflected once again in the picture itself in the motif of that which for the patchwork cutter represents the entire picture as (NA 152). It can probably be assumed that the sky is reflected in it, so that the material world of opposites ('excrement') and the world of pure harmony ('snow' or 'heaven') coincide again in it.6

The medium of visual arts is perception, the medium of literature is language. The former gives shapes outside of time on the surface, the latter in the juxtaposition of words mere temporal extension without shape. The (NA 152), which is above Brabanzio's watercolor, is only established in relation to one another between the two genres, because.7

Brabanzio has developed its own 'technique' that allows it to represent linguistically tangible content indirectly in the picture:

he said more to himself than to him [the emperor], (NA 156)

The painter draws on language, just as, conversely, the narrator of the novel draws on pictures, in order to be able to do justice to both sides of reality, its linguistically tangible 'depth' (the 'heart') and its vivid surface in their own medium of expression. Brabanzio can base the composition on the meaning of the represented objectivity - a 'changeable face' or one - by means of his 'questioning technique'.

Leonardo da Vinci intends to deepen the visual arts in a similar way to that of Brabanzio in Perutz's posthumously published novel Der by merging different states of the depicted object in the one moment of the depiction. His composition summarizes different phases of the reaction of a dove to the Christmas message proclaimed by the angels:

(JL 18)

It remains unfinished because Lorenzo de Medici leaves an exile (JL 19). The guilt felt towards the deaf prevents the intended simultaneous representation of the succession or the suspension of language (the angels) in the picture. Conversely, the failure of Leonardo's painterly attempt releases a story that tells of a picture, that is to say, the simultaneity cancels in the succession.

said the Duke after a short while of silence, (JL 20)

The poetic program of the thus agrees with that of NA: both times it is about the interlacing of the media possibilities of visual and language art, as Leonardo da Vinci calls for in the motto quoted at the beginning of the chapter.8 Nevertheless, the two art forms do not merge completely, but the opposing process of complementation continues precisely in failure, as the example of Leonardo shows. For this reason, the NA narrator also introduces a painter who, in turn, lets his models tell stories in order to be able to depict them appropriately.

With regard to the portrait of his late wife Esther ordered by Meisl, the painter's 'questioning technique' is of course not applicable, because it requires the presence of the whole person in order to be able to bring both sides - inner 'being' and outer appearance - together in the picture. Now, with Meisl and the Kaiser, the witnesses for both sides of Esther are gathered in the workshop, but Meisl (NA 155), the mediation of both poles in the picture is therefore excluded. In response to the painter's questions, Meisl, to whom Esther turned her 'day side' during her lifetime, metaphorically her outside, her external appearance and her skills:

the Mordechai Meisl continued. (NA 157)

Rudolf, on the other hand, is only interested in Esther's inner side, which she shows him as his dream lover.9 The different sides that Esther turns to them, however, have the same function for both of them to give meaning to their lives. Meisl therefore refers to her as (ibid.), Rudolf finds with her who scares away the being of the world marked by (NA 101f). While the nature of their relationship with Esther is different, the feeling of loss is identical in both: what remains for both is the negativity of life, his (cf. 101).

And as Mordechai Meisl said, something strange happened to the emperor. It was as if he himself had spoken these words and not the Jew. Every new morning comes the old suffering - his own fate was enclosed in those words, it has happened to him since the night in which his dream lover was torn from him. (NA 158)

The painter's technique, to bring the essentials of a person into the picture, comes into play after all. If the painter can only acknowledge Meisl's attempts to convey a picture of Esther through his speech with a shrug (NA 159), then he triggers a memory of Esther in Rudolf, which he tries to capture in the picture.

He was lost in thought. He no longer heard what the painter and the Jew were talking to each other. He forgot where he was. Summoned by those words, the image of the dream lover rose before his eyes; he saw her so clearly, more clearly than ever before. In utter ecstasy, he took the silver pen out of one of the pockets of his skirt to hold her and reached for a sheet of paper.
When he finished the picture, the spell left him. (NA 158)

Unlike Brabanzio, however, the 'imperial dilettante' (NA 160) does not master the implementation of the inwardly seen essentials into appearance through the composition of a picture. What he puts on paper with the silver pen is therefore only the outward appearance of Esther, as he saw her for the first time on the ride into the Jewish city:

He looked at it again, but the longer he looked at it, the less it pleased him. He sighed and shook his head.
No, it wasn't. It was someone else, similar to her in some ways, but not her. A Jewish girl with big, frightened eyes,10 on which his gaze might have fallen when he rode through the alleys of the Jewish town. But not her, his dream lover. (NA 158f)

Meisl's reaction to Esther's portrait once again confirms the view that his outward appearance is important to him. The insignificance of his business corresponds to the insignificance of the image, which is nevertheless sufficient for him to forget his own and gain new energy, as the following story already presupposes. Rudolf had dropped the picture (NA 159) and left the tailor's workshop.

Mordechai Meisl picked it up, held it in his hand for a moment, then saw the picture and uttered a scream. , he shouted.

Of course, Meisl's words also express the acknowledgment of the real Esther, whom Rudolf rejects in comparison with his flawless dream lover. The pairs of opposites 'essence and appearance' as well as 'dream and reality' are thus related to both in inverse proportion: Rudolf turns to Esther's being in the dream, Meisl to her real appearance.

The technique of the painter forms the basis of Esther's picture, because Brabanzio's questions about Esther's 'essence' stimulate Rudolf to create the portrait. Nevertheless, the mediation of both sides in the picture does not succeed, and Brabanzio does not recognize it as his own work: (NA 160). By accepting eight guilders from Meisl, he owed Rudolf, to whom they were due, and thus set in motion a process similar to that initiated by Rudolf when he stole the thaler: he left his home and went out into the world again. According to the narrator, he dies of the plague in Venice, but leaves behind a self-portrait that shows astonishing parallels to the novel:

It hangs in a small private gallery in Milan and depicts a man sitting in a bar by the harbor, maybe himself, and two ugly old women crowd up to him to hug him, and one is, I think, the pestilence, and the other, gray as a shroud, is oblivion. (NA 161)

Just as Brabanzio presents himself between pestilence and oblivion, the playing field of the novel is limited by the 'plague in the Jewish city' and the disappearance of Meisl's estate as (NA 267). Brabanzio preserves his image for posterity by reflexively incorporating into the image the conditions of historical development, death and oblivion.11 This creates a self-contained image in which the composition of the novel is reflected and in turn concludes. The picture hangs in a 'gallery in -land', so it closes off from the inside as well as from the outside, like the novel, expecting a future in which one understands how to read it.


1 Cf. also NA 146: One knows how to appreciate one's ability in the farmer's taverns.

2 Lat. textum 'tissue'.

3 French Sur tout 'über alles' - From gnosis to Jewish mysticism to modern literature, the tradition of the metaphor extends from the world as 'God's dress'. See e.g. Gershom Scholem, On the Kabbalah and its symbolism. Frankfurt 31981, p. 61ff and Nestroys 'Talisman' II, 22, where it says: Johann Nestroy, Komödien. 3 vols. F. Mautner, Frankfurt 1970, vol. 2, p. 323 (I owe this to Dr.phil. Hauke ​​Stroszeck).

4 See e.g. Concise Dictionary of German Superstition, Vol. 7, Col. 1205, Art. 'Schlehe'.

5 The defoliated tree is one of the leitmotifs in Perutz's work and is always related to the motif of death. See e.g. NA 13:, NA 128: as well as MB 82: Before the Marques de Bolibar is shot, he lets his gaze wander once more over the country:. With the motif, Perutz draws on an iconographic tradition that has been documented since the Middle Ages. Green and dried up trees initially stand for the tree of life in Paradise, which dried up after the fall of man, but then also for the church and synagogue, for the New and Old Testaments. See Werner Habicht, Beckett's Baum, and Shakespeare's Forests. In: Emblem and Emblematic Reception. Comparative studies on the history of effects from the 16th to the 20th century. Edited by Sybille Penkert, Darmstadt 1978, pp. 593-609; Salvatore Settis, Giorgione's thunderstorm. Client and hidden subject of a picture in the Renaissance. Berlin 1982, p. 29 and Fig. 10 as well as Luther and the consequences for art. Catalog for the exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, 11.11.1983 - 8.1.1984. Edited by W. Hofmann, Munich 1983, pp. 210-216 and Fig. 84. The symmetrical composition by Lucas Cranach on the subject of law and grace (around 1529) based on a design by Luther is determined by a tree occupying the center of the picture, the left one facing the OT Side withers, the right side of which, facing the NT, is, however, leafy.

6 On the metaphor of the reflecting puddle, see e.g. Hans Peter Keller, Der Schierlingsbecher. Poems. Düsseldorf 1947, p. 12 f: To a puddle.

7 Kant, KrV, B 75.

8 Lionardo da Vinci, The Paragone. The competition of the arts. Düsseldorf 1947, p. 22f. - Georg Simmel also draws attention to the depiction of various moments in one picture with regard to Leonardo's Last Supper: G.Simmel, Lionardo da Vinci's Last Supper. In: ders. [1922], pp. 55-60, here p. 60.

9 See NA 259:

10 Rudolf sees the real Esther in the Judenstadt (NA 256).

11 H.-H. Müller has taken over some thoughts, including the parallels between Brabanzio's picture and the composition of the novel, from my master’s thesis, on which the present dissertation is based, in the afterword to NA. See NA 292 and the editorial note, NA 296.