Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Beginning of Fairy Tale Painting and Aspects of Marketing Strategies in Germany's Art Scene

Found this wonderful article about fairy tale illustration in 19th century Germany through the Child Illustration blog. The article is Moritz von Schwind's Cinderella (1852–1854): The Beginning of Fairy Tale Painting and Aspects of Marketing Strategies in Germany's Art Scene by Regina Freyberger

First few paragraphs to whet your interest before you click through to read it all:

When artists in nineteenth-century Germany no longer had the economic security of working permanently either for the Church or the Crown, and thus had to face the challenges of the open art market, they had to invent marketing strategies in order to stand out above the keen competition at art exhibitions. They also had to satisfy the demands of the new buying class—the culturally interested and wealthy bourgeoisie. While the artists tried to fulfill their artistic ideals first, and were anxious not to commit themselves to short-lived fads or to commercial art, these challenges greatly affected their paintings, both in the choice of their subjects and in their execution. All the more interesting are the different means of promotion the artists devised to create a market for paintings truest to their artistic goals.

Moritz von Schwind's (1804–1871, fig. 1) marketing of his painting Cinderella (Aschenbrödel, 1852–1854, fig. 2),1 was particularly resourceful and ranged from the choice of an unconventional topic for a painting to its presentation at a most recognized exhibition. But, the painting's subject, fairy tales,2 were also one of Schwind's major artistic interests throughout his life. He was convinced that German folk tales should not be "despised"3 so readily. And so fairy tale motifs, such as in the Phantom in the Forest (Die Erscheinung im Walde), or in preliminary sketches for his fairy tale paintings Cinderella and The Seven Ravens (Die Sieben Raben), date back to the beginnings of his art career in the early 1820s, when fairy tales were just being rediscovered in Germany.4 Even when Schwind finally started work on the painting of Cinderella in 1852, fairy tales were not yet considered at all suitable for the highest of the painting genres, and generally had been limited to the graphic arts and book illustrations. Hence, his selecting so exceptional a motif was as risky as it was ambitious. It guaranteed that he would stand out from his competitors in the open art market and therefore attract the attention of the critics as well as potential buyers. Moreover, if the viewing public accepted German fairy tales as a subject of history paintings, he would be able to increase his work on fairy tales, definitely a favorite painting subject of his. But on the other hand, if his painting failed to win acceptance at exhibition, Schwind would have gained nothing but bad press, uncovered expenses, and the certainty that there was no market for his fairy tale paintings.5 Consequently, Schwind would not be able to successfully combine his own artistic goals with the demands of the open art market, and, so, he sought to assure the success of his first fairy tale painting, Cinderella, by additional marketing strategies.

Below is Cinderella by Josef Burda, 1880.

This one below  is for Snow White and Rose Red by  Edward Jakob von Steinle (1868) and no studies of it were provided in the article. Lovely though...

The notes to the article state:

This is an abridged version of a chapter of my doctoral thesis on illustrations and paintings of the Kinder- und Hausmärchen of the Brothers Grimm in Germany from 1819 to 1945, to be completed at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, in October 2007. I would like to thank Professor Frank Büttner and Professor Andrea Gottdang, along with the anonymous reviewer at Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, and Robert Alvin Adler for their helpful suggestions. I wish to extend my thanks to Dr. Hanna Dose, Deutsches Märchen- und Wesersagenmuseum Bad Oeynhausen, for allowing me to research the vast collection of xylographic reproductions on fairy tale paintings in the nineteenth century. —All translations are those of the author.

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