Adolph Von Menzel (1815–1905): In a Railway Carriage (After8/13/2021, 6:00:57 PM
Adolph Von Menzel (1815–1905): In a Railway Carriage (After a Night's Journey), 1851, Gouache, with touches of pastel and oil paint, on cream wove paper, laid down on Japanese paper, 27.3 x 33 cm, Art Institute of Chicago This is a remarkable example of an early work from a pioneering proponent of Realism. Menzel revealed the unglamorous aspect of bourgeois train travel in many compelling details: a man asleep in a contorted position, a wistful woman gazing out at early morning light, the detritus of their journey around them. A frequent train traveler himself, Menzel likely spent many long nights in a cramped carriage, sitting in a restless posture similar to the passengers depicted in this work. The man's twisted position in the painting, feet wedged against the opposite seat, suggests convenience over comfort, while his companion's slumped shoulders, heavy expression, and rumpled dress are tell-tale signs of a sleepless night spent sitting up. The muted colour tones of the carriage interior suggest soft early morning light, and the brighter, built-up areas of gouache detail the crumpled newspaper, tossed clothing, and empty flask all discarded during the journey.