This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

Until We Meet Again!

06 June 2020

 A fine portrait
invites the viewer
to read the mind of its subject.
We study the eyes,
consider the posture,
examine the gestures
and deduce
thoughts, feelings, and emotions
as skillfully guided by the artist.

With a larger group
the artist has more opportunity
to depict individual personalities
or a collected spirit.
The multiple faces
appeal to our human experience
and the viewer feels that they too
are present in the moment
of the picture.

When an accomplished artist
crafts an portrait
it also begs a question.
Who do we see?
What is going on with this person?
The artist places subtle clues
that lead us to answers
so anyone can recognize
that same occasion from their own life.

This weekend I present another set of postcards
by the Austrian artist, Hermann Torggler, (1878-1939).
I've featured his etchings of charming young women before
in The Girls of Austrian Postcards,
Up, Up, and Away!,
Ein schönes Mädchen,
To Your Health!

and Don't Forget to Write!

* * *

The first image shows a young woman standing at the window of train carriage. She is richly attired  with a fine feathered hat, and extravagant dress with a very large frilled collar. Herr Torggler turns  her gaze directly into our eyes. She seems paused in thought, about to say something. Ade, auf Wiedersehen! is the caption. Farewell, until we meet again.

The postcard was sent 3 October 1900 to Fräulein Johanna Schauf of Nottuln, a town between Coesfeld and Münster in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is near the Netherlands border and was a settlement since at least 4000 BC. Nuttuln translates from early German as "Nut Wood".

* * *

The second etching is my favorite because it is the postcard that first attracted my interest in Hermann Torggler's work. It illustrates a lively rehearsal of a Damenkapelle or Ladies Orchestra. The caption title is Generalprobe, or Dress Rehearsal. Seven young women are making music in a small room. They play violin, cello, piano, flute, horn, cymbals, and are led by an enthusiastic conductor who has thrown her arms wide as if the music has reached a rousing finale. 

The postmark on this card 5 May 1899 matches the date of the message carefully written around all four sides of the border. The writer also jokingly adds that the Generalprobe unter Direktion von Fr. B. Vach, which I'm guessing refers to themselves or the recipient. It was sent from Bayern, i.e. Bavaria,  to Fräulein Irma Becker of Vacha, a town in Thuringia, more or less in the very center of Germany. In this era of the German Empire it was located in the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.

* * *

The third etching of Torggler is also entitled Ade, auf Wiedersehen! and shows a woman inside a train carriage compartment in an opposite perspective to the one in the first postcard. However this woman is dressed differently, wearing a proper traveling jacket and modest straw hat. Beside her satchel on the floor is a bouquet of flowers. She is engrossed in writing a message on a postcard. The sender has underlined the caption title and added the initials K. S. onto the woman's card in the picture.

Like the previous postcard this one was mailed with a Bavarian postal stamp. The publisher of all of Torggler's postcards was Fr. A. Acker,amm. Kunstverlag of München. It was sent from Munich on 19 June 1899 to Hochwohlgeboren (highly born) Cf...(?) Richard Stury.  The address stumped me for a bit, as it starts simply with Hier, meaning Here, in this city, München.

I know a little bit about München and I confirmed a hunch that the street address, Maximilianstrasse 29, is a prime location in the center of the city just inside the Ring road. The 5 story building still stands as it must have looked in 1899 with ritzy shops on the ground floor and apartments/offices above. It is a also very close to Munich's opera house and other theaters, so I did a search for the name Richard Stury.

Richard Stury, K. B. Hofschauspieler
as "Faust"

It turns out that Richard Stury (1859–1928) was a noted German actor, famous for his roles at the Munich National Theater from 1887 to 1906.  He played the lead in two plays of Friedrich Schiller: Don Carlos and Wilhelm Tell; in Shakespeare's Othello;  and in Goethe's great tragic two-part drama, Faust. Richard Stury is pictured here in costume for his role as Faust on a souvenir postcard from around 1900.

It was during a performance of Faust part II, that Stury was seriously injured when a stage apparatus malfunctioned just as his character Faust flies across the stage. Stury suffered a concussion and never fully recovered. Poor health forced him to retire from the stage in 1906, but he remained an important teacher of dramatic arts. Today in Munich, Die Richard Stury Stiftung, operates  a foundation in his name for promotion of the performing and visual arts.
Ironically the date of that accident was 12 October 1899, not quite 4 months after Stury received Herman Torggler's charming postcard from K.S.
_ _ _

Hermann Torggler's delightful drawings are simple examples of the sentimental art popular in late 19th and early 20th century Europe. They are like confections, trifle bonbons of eye candy created for pleasurable visual consumption. Evidently his postcards were very successful, to judge from the variety listed on postcard dealers' websites, and were sold throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland and even France too. Of course it is Torggler's depiction of musicians and musical instruments that attracts my interest in collecting his work, but I find his skillful rendering of female portraits very captivating too.

What intrigues me most is that Hermann Torggler's work was popular at the very beginning of the age of postcards. It was a new kind of social media, cheap to produce, easy to sell, and fun for people to to consume. Like candy.

We recognize the allure of his young women because they resemble the millions of similar images used in commercial art of our time. Yet in 1899 Torggler is not really selling anything except a pretty picture that captures our attention. Just a few years later, photographers would be able to capture this same quality of charisma in real live models for a fraction of the technical effort. But Torggler's work is made entirely from his imagination. We do not see these portraits through a camera lens. They come straight from the artist's eye. That's the power of art.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where it's all just window dressing.


Alex Daw said...

I think I must be a romantic at heart because I love all these portraits. Just hopeless. The group portrait is lovely too but I think I like the one of young lady at the train window looking out perhaps wistfully. Too late! That train has departed.

Sandra Williamson said...

These are lovely pieces of art that are easily shared. When travelling I often buy artists work depicted on postcards. I also love the way the authors wrote on every blank white piece of the card, not harming the picture but also not wasting any valuable writing space.

Wendy said...

My fav is the 3rd postcard. That expression on her face is exactly how someone looks while thinking and composing. You can see it around her mouth.
The card mailed to “Here” reminds me of some old letters I have that were addressed “City.” Portsmouth to Portsmouth.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Such wonderful evocative images. I particularly like the travel ones.

La Nightingail said...

I love Hermann's work. Wonderful sketchings. Did he sketch only, or did he paint as well? Whenever you feature his work, I wish I could see more! I should probably look online. :)

La Nightingail said...

Ah ha! I looked online. Hermann painted some lovely portraits. I still like his sketches better though. Not sure why I feel this way, but I think if the sketches were painted they wouldn't be as interesting.

ScotSue said...

A wonderful set of vintage photographs. My favourite is the lady in the train carriage - she looks so pensive, you could compose a story fro her look. What sad story of Richard Stury, his career blighted by the stage accident.

Molly's Canopy said...

These are excellent examples of Torggler's work. I particularly like the etching of the women's band. In some ways, this is more evocative than the posed band postcard photos that came later because he was able to show the physicality of musicians at work. The detail in his work is remarkable. And kudos for finding out more about Richard Stury, which adds valuable context to the card that was sent to him.

JMP183 said...

These are wonderful postcards. I especially like the first one. So perfectly posed. Pure elegance.

Barbara Rogers said...

I am also indebted to the artist...knowing an etching takes a great deal of time to create...and then can be reproduced by printing presses. For this art medium on post cards to have survived the century we've just completed, I'm sure these were treasured by one or many people. I don't have a favorite, but do enjoy thinking of what might have been his intentions in creating thee women.


  © Blogger template Shush by 2009

Back to TOP