No matter how bad of a day I might be having, Eduard von Grützner's monks always make me smile.
This is one of the many 19th century German artists whose work I discovered during my visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Grützner was a prolific painter, but he's perhaps most well known for his lighthearted depictions of monks and cardinals, who are usually seen enjoying a spot of wine or beer, or acting out some humorous anecdote, like here in Catastrophe. One might find it curious that an artist of such talent apparently felt this a worthy theme to apply his craft, but consider how precise he rendered this cellar, especially that beautiful design on the large barrel, the jug over to the right, and the signs of wear found throughout the bricks. There's no big, ambitious meaning here--just an artists who enjoyed his trade and obviously took pride and satisfaction in his work, and I like that he dedicated his academic eye to such unassuming subject matter. Furthermore, he was a collector of antiques and often featured very detailed representations of them in his paintings. Genre work is sometimes described as mechanical and stale, but Grützner's tipsy monks and shadowy cellars stand of evidence to the contrary.