Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Religious Smoking and Drinking

In our constant effort to justify our cigar-smoking pecadillos, which invariably is tied to a little bit of imbibing, we have invoked Pope St. Pius X (reputedly a smoker, though I have no photographic evidence of same), Pope Pius IX (and his cigar-making factory), etc.  In prior posts, we have also mentioned some tobacco-using saints, for example, the English martyr-priest St. John Kemble, the Mexican martyr-priest, San Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez.  There is, of course, ample examples of cigar smoking Catholics, including some of our top intellects and literary giants such as G. K. Chesteron and Hilaire Belloc.

Continuing in that self-justifcatory vein, I thought I would invoke the witness of the German artist Eduard von Grützner (1846–1925).  This artist was famed for his genre paints of monks and other religious, often depicted in more jovial moods, holding up a claret to the light, sniffing a wine's the bouquet, taking a big swig of a liter of German Pilsner, or, even smoking a cigar.  We find Grützner depicting secular priests, Cistercians, Dominicans, Franciscans, even . . . on occasion, a Prince of the Church.

 A Capuchin Friar Enjoying a Fine Cigar and a Beer

 A Cardinal Enjoying a Wine's Bouquet

 A Dominican Friar Admiring the Clarity of the Wine

 Dominican Friar Admiring the Vintage

 Dominican Friar Toasting

 Secular Priest Admiring a Claret

"The Catastrophe"

Grützner was born to a Catholic family in Groß-Karlowitz near the town of Neiße, in Upper Silesia, an area that is now Poland. Grützner displayed his artistic ability when very young.  The village parson encouraged the development of the talent, and enabled him to attend the grammar school of Gymnasium in Neiße.  The parson then sent Grützner to Hermann Dyck's private school in Munich in 1864, and this enabled Grützner to study drawing in the city of Munich. Other teachers that influenced Grützner included Hiltensperger and Strähuber.

In 1865 Grützner finally joined Hermann Anschütz's painting class at the Munich Akademie. There he also sought advice and ideas with Carl Theodor von Piloty before being accepted in his class in 1867. Three years later he left the Akademie and moved into his own studio.

Already in his student years--one might turn to his youthful work "Im Klosterkeller" (In the Cloister Cellars)-- focused on depicting monastic life. Most of his scenes depict the merry atmosphere in monastic cellars, kitchens and alehouses in a humorous and anecdotal manner.

Grützner's technique was traditional, in both style and palette. 

Grützner was appointed professor at the Munich Akademie in 1886.  In 1880 he was awarded the Order of Merit of St. Michael (Knight's Cross) first class, and he was knighted in 1916.

In addition to his monastic paintings, Grützner also produced a Falstaff-cycle, theatre and hunting scenes, and studies of interiors. 

Grützner married Barbara Link in 1874, who bore him a daughter, whom they named Barbara. After ten years of marriage, Barbara died.  In 1888, married the much-younger Anna Grützner Wirthmann, from whom he had a son, Karl Eduard.  This second marriage was unhappy, and the younger wife eventually left the artist for a Viennese singer.

Grützner died in 1925 in Munich.

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