Monday, March 31, 2008

The painting Adolf Hitler liked

Unpopular heroes are marked with dislike and nobody wish to share their taste for something. Is there a killer or criminal preferring special type of meal, necktie or hair style? I am sure you will avoid of the same liking. How about paintings?

Let's take one of the most destructive man in human history. He had a passion in art and he owned a collection of artworks. Some say his cultural pretensions meant nothing. Others feel very differently about it. The National Gallery in London made a discovery recently. It reveals an interesting fact about a medieval erotic painting Cupid Complaining to Venus by the German Renaissance master Lucas Cranach the Elder. The point is: the painting was once part of Adolf Hitler’s private collection.

Cupid Complaining to Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Cupid Complaining to Venus by Lucas Cranach the Elder (about 1525). Oil on wood, 81.3 x 54.6 cm. Cupid complains to Venus that he has been stung by bees. He holds in his hand the honeycomb that has been stolen from them. The Latin verses in the upper right point up the moral message in this picture that life’s brief pleasure is mixed with pain.

The research has been carrying out by Dr Birgit Schwartz. The National Gallery believes that her identification of the painting in a photograph of Hitler’s private gallery is correct. The photograph is in an album that is part of Hitler’s former library of 1200 volumes.

For some people many problems arise with this finding. It looks like the artwork got stained and deflated by watching, touching and probably fantasised by the dictator. Shell we watch it, touch it and fantasise about it in spite of all that? Should we mind?

There is an excellent article by Jonathan Jones here (and I have to admit I like to read his articles a lot) throwing light on the historical background of the painting. It is long and worthy to read. Another insightful text about the painting is here.

So, read through and come back. What opinion do you share on the topic? Do you mind who owned a painting you admire? Or will you reconsider your emotions towards the masterpiece?


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