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Mendelssohn: cute kid, and multi-media artist

Posted at 10:51 AM on February 1, 2009 by Fred Child (6 Comments)

Mendelssohn at age 7:


Mendelssohn at age 12:


An oil painting by Carl Joseph Begas.

In Mendelssohn's circle, drawing was part of daily life. Felix himself kept notebooks full of pencil and ink sketches. He did oil paintings and watercolors. This water color is from his trip to Italy in 1836.


That image is from the Mendelssohn Project, based in New York. More images from the Mendelssohn Project here. And I'll devote a blog later this week to the work of the Mendelssohn Project. They plan to release the first-ever complete collection of Mendelssohn's visual art as a coffee table book.

Here's an 1836 watercolor Mendelssohn did for his friend Henriette Grabau.


In the last year of his life, Mendelssohn and his family traveled in Switzerland, and he took his watercolors with him. Lucerne:


The state library of Berlin has published a book of the 13 watercolors Mendelssohn painted on that Switzerland trip in 1847. You can buy a copy from the Mendelssohn House in Leipzig here. Here's one more image from that 1847 trip.


The book isn't cheap...185 Euros.
You can see all 13 images here.

Check out the BBC's slick & entertaining Mendelssohn pages (in the style of a comic book), which include several more of Mendelssohn's sketches, musical and otherwise.

Comments ( 6 )

So, would you call that 1836 watercolor an early example of album art?

I also think that Mendelssohn has gotten WAY more than his share of talent - can we please hear about things that he was BAD at?

Could he bake, fence, or do calculus?

Posted by Alex Coppock | February 2, 2009 11:56 AM

It's Sta-VANG-er.

Posted by gg | February 2, 2009 12:05 PM

I'm with Alex-- how about some dirt? What couldn't he do well? Any terrible habits? Did he pick his nose at the dinner table? Speak with an obviously fake accent to impress girls? Smoke vile cigars in orphanages?

Thanks, Fred, for sharing this marvelous man with us.

Posted by Gentleman Rook | February 3, 2009 9:17 AM

Fred: Thank you for posting those beautiful portraits of Mendelsshon as a child and all those surprising watercolors. Especially, I thank you for all the information you give us through Performance Today. It is a great program.


Posted by Malvina E. Bush | February 3, 2009 2:24 PM

Didn't Felix Mendelssohn also write? Seems to me I read about that when I as a teen. Any way he sounds like the ultimate of a "Romantic Poet" and the inspiration of the character in the play _La_Ronde_. Where does his Bartholdy name come from?

Posted by Ray Bryan | February 4, 2009 7:47 AM

Thanks for the information on February 3's broadcast about Mendelssohn's tragic affair with soprano Jenny Lind, and the affadavit concerning it and the cover-up surrounding it!

Jessica Duchen wrote in The Independent last month that:

"If the course of events [about Mendelssohn's affair with Lind and his ardent request to elope with her to America] proved true, its significance would not be restricted to Mendelssohn's private life. It could transform critical views of his music. Until then, we won't understand this glorious composer as fully as he deserves."

I wholeheartedly agree. Mendelssohn's music needs to get out from under the whitewash of Wagner's putdowns and latter-day cover-ups about his temperament and life. It's beautiful, profound music, and music lovers and the public have a right to know the full truth about this deep, complex composer.

Thanks very much for publicizing this information, and let us the public petition the Mendelssohn Scholarship Foundation en masse demanding the right to see this concealed affadavit from Lind's husband.

Posted by Aanel Victoria | February 4, 2009 10:32 AM

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