I haven’t managed to do much in the last three weeks really. The mounted Listenois Dragoons were finished, and since then, very little progress has been made. I have Stair’s Dragoons undercoated and staring at me (pardon the pun), and I really should put some paint on them to get the ball rolling again. I often find that when I am uninspired to paint all that it takes is to force myself to do the base coats on some horses and I’m away again. Of course, school is back and hectic, so my hobby might have to take a back seat until I can regain my sanity and find a rhythm again.
This post is because I found something exciting. Not ‘cure a disease’ exciting, or ‘winning lottery ticket’ exciting. Not even ‘exciting to the general public’ exciting. In fact, as far as this is something I find exciting, I believe many people would shake their heads at the poverty of excitement in my life. Nevertheless, I beg your forbearance on this matter.
My love affair with History began when I discovered some old magazines that belonged to my father in a suitcase in the back of the wardrobe in the spare room (no, not those kind of magazines…). They were the first 30 or so issues of Purnell’s History of the 20th Century, which covered the First World War. There were a number of image that really caught my imagination in these volumes, and some fantastic covers. They still colour the way that I imagine the First World War. On the back of each issue was the Twentieth Century Scrapbook, with little snippets of information and the odd cartoon. One of the images that stuck with me was a cartoon from the German magazine Simplicissimus which featured a big black knight as the God of War and a slight nymph who was the spirit of spring. For me it represented everything that I loved about the Art Nouveau/jugendstil style.
The magazines have long since gone AWOL, although I did find a couple of them a few years back. recently I was putting together an exercise for my students on propaganda in the first world war and my mind drifted back to this image. I decided I wanted to find it. First step was google it. Nope. I couldn’t find it anywhere, searching the words from the quote, the name of the magazine etc. So I looked for second hand copies of the magazines. I couldn’t remember what issue it was in, so I was looking at the first two collected volumes in their binders. Nope, I wasn’t prepared to pay anywhere near what people were asking. Then I remembered that there were some bound volumes in the school library. Excellent. Except that they had had the back covers removed, and those were the pages I needed. That was only a few days ago, so basically I have been looking for this picture for 6 months or so.
Then, yesterday, I was searching the shelves in the resource room for material to teach, and I found a whole collection of magazines. What were they? Purnell’s History of the Twentieth Century, incomplete but there. I’ve worked in that room for three years and never knew! I frantically searched through them and noted with horror that a few had their covers missing. And then I found it. And here it is, in all its glory:
German premonition of the coming conflict. The Spirit of Spring wonders: ‘Will the god of war crush the young flowers this year with his iron foot’. Simplicissimus.
I’ve put it here with the original caption for anyone else who might be looking for it. Yes, I know that I’m a pretty unique saddo, but you never know – there could be others. Meanwhile, I am content. I’m now going to paint some horses.