Happy Ash Wednesday! No, that’s not quite right… let’s lose the exclamation point. Happy Ash Wednesday. Better!
Believe it or not, there isn’t much art surrounding Ash Wednesday. There is tons and tons of gorgeous art featuring Holy Week, but I couldn’t find much available commemorating this day. Not much that’s good anyway. Sad, because I love Ash Wednesday. (And not just because of all the wordplay fun we can have with the word “ash.”) I love moving into a time of intentional reflection and (hopefully!) betterment. But this isn’t a philosophical blog, is it? So, let me get down to a piece of art I did find.
Ash Wednesday is by an artist I had never heard of before: Carl Spitzweg. His Wikipedia bio had me loving him in a hurry. First off, he was from Bavaria, so lederhosen. Second, like so many artists, he began painting while recovering from an illness and I truly admire people who take up a new skill while they’re sick. Because I prefer laying in bed, whining, with a bell at my bedside. Finally, he brought a sense of humor to his art, and that was pretty rare in the mid 1800s. Not to mention, Spitzweg? That’s a fantastic name.
His Ash Wednesday painting is not one of his humorous pieces, though it does feature a clown, but not a scary one (Coulrophobes, fear not!); a repentant clown. He sits in the light, reflective in his party attire. His posture looks shamed to me, but not hopeless.
Not bad for a guy who taught himself to paint from his sickbed, huh?
If you are so inclined, you might look up The Bookworm or Gnome Watching Railway. I love an artist who can paint thoughtful, important art, then turn around and paint something fun and whimsical.
And that is how I fell for Carl Spitzweg’s art quick as a flAsh Wednesday.