Eduard Von Grutzner's A Good Drink is characteristic of the popularity the German genre painter achieved by depicting monks imbibing the product of their craft: fine beers and brandies. Born into a wealthy agricultural family, Von Grutzner's figurative reproductions of German rural life are evocations inflected with nostalgia, wit, and humor. Beginning by recording the animal and mineral wildlife of his surrounding village, the young Von Grutzner moved onto human subjects and immediately found his calling. Encouraged in his initial training of local notables, Von Grutzner was allowed to train first at the School of Neisse and then in private tuition in Munich. As well as a popular image-maker, Von Grutzner was a passionate art collector, preserving works of the late Gothic and early Renaissance period. In works such as A Good Drink one can see the influence of Northern Renaissance portraiture stripped of the embattled religiosity and suffused with the tipsy joy of male camaraderie. Indeed, in his larger paintings the artist would include elements from his collection of antiquities, mainly works from the Far East, deftly placed amid the backdrop.
From the early days of his studies, Von Grutzner displayed an interest in monastic subjects, exploring the realities of everyday life for these pious, yet exuberant communities. Set in basements, kitchens, and pubs, the mood of his genre paintings is anecdotal and jovial. Yet, adding a great deal to the study of thematic composition and chromatics, the artist's works are no simple light-hearted reproductions or chocolate-box images. An outstanding draftsman, the artist's drunken caricatures were reflective of an emergent German national identity which would manifest itself in the unification of the German states into a modern nation in 1870.
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