(b. 1808, München, d. 1885, München)

The Poor Poet

Oil on canvas, 36 x 45 cm
Neue Pinakothek, Munich

Spitzweg was regarded as the secluded "painter-poet of Munich's Heumarkt," an eccentric who never displayed his extensive traveling. With Spitzweg Biedermeier painting as such comes to an end. He is still describing this world, but with the objectivity and distance of the observer. He can invest the seemingly idyllic scenes and subjects with a humour that is often biting. The Poor Poet is and apt example of this.

Three versions of the Poor Poet are known. It is thought that Etenhuber (1720-82), a poet living in impoverished circumstances in Munich, was the model. Spitzweg shows the poet writing in bed to keep warm, for there is snow outside on the roofs and he has no wood to heat the stove. But he seems unconcerned at his scant means and the leaking roof, and his pen in his mouth, he counts off the meter of his rhyme on his fingers.