The Painting by jlsavell
Sigmund loved his early morning strolls, especially in the early March, when the winter succumbed to the wiles of spring. His office was just a few blocks north of Ringstrasse, a broad boulevard with beautiful parks, monuments, and imposing public and private buildings. Their architecture indicative of the ornate Baroque era.
His favorite place was a small park, where it was bordered by the boulevard to the north and The Danube to the south. It was here he chose to unwind, write memoirs, and observe the incredible beauty of the river, the wildlife, and, of course, the people. After all, he was an observer of people. People were his life's work and passion.
Before closing the door to his office, Sigmund placed the awkwardly wrapped painting next to the wall. He would decide later where to hang it, though probably temporarily. He was not particularly fond of the painting, but the artist seemed desperate for funds and he found the man intriguing and puzzling. The latter was the main reason he bought the painting. Perhaps he could get a sense of this stranger's perception of life by studying his work, for their conversation in the park left him ill at ease; but for now, he needed to warm himself.
Sigmund knelt before the fireplace to warm his hands. He pulled his watch from his pocket. He had a few hours before meeting with Professor Hofburg. The warmth comforted him and, as always, the dance of the darting flames entranced him, to the point of oblivion.
He was jostled from his hypnotic state by the turn of the doorknob and then a familiar voice. "Sir, excuse me for just entering, but I knocked several times. I was concerned, for I saw you come in. Ms. Schiele wanted me to tell you she would not be able to attend our session today."
With a swift gesture of the hand, Sigmund then replied "Carl, please come on in. I was lost in thought. Ms. Schiele?"
Carl was use to Sigmund's forgetfulness, but today was something more. "Yes, do you not remember? A patient of mine whom I felt it imperative you talk to."
"Oh, yes, yes. The young lady from the art university that had an unpleasant experience regarding a stranger who hurled anti- Semitic insults and threats at her in the park. She is having nightmares over the incident. Yes, I remember. I apologize. I was lost in thought."
"No need to apologize. It is our nature, sir, to get lost in thought."
"Yes, perhaps so. Please, please Carl, make yourself at home. Would you like some hot tea?"
"No sir, I am fine. Thank you."
Sigmund walked over to the painting and began to unwrap it carefully, "Since you are here, would you mind helping me mount this painting on the wall. I think right here is the perfect place. "
"Most certainly!" Carl scanned the painting briefly. "Sigmund, when did you procure this painting? "
"This morning, in the park. I bought it from a young man that seemed quite desperate. He would not take no for an answer. I decided on this one. What do you think?"
Carl hesitated briefly, searching for the right response, so as not to offend, "Well, sir, it is a most interesting painting."
"But?" Sigmund responded with an annoying tone.
"Please forgive my boldness, sir- but this painting does not appear as one you would choose. It is quite different from any painting you have in here."
"Yes it is, Carl. As always, you are quite astute. I have it here to study. I doubt seriously if it will be part of any prized collection of mine, or of art collectors, or of museums. However, I am curious to understand the nature of the artist, since I had a brief, but intense conversation with him."
"Oh, one of the artists in the park. There are a few of them wandering around. I believe they are without shelter and proper sustenance. Perhaps, he, like many others, came to Vienna to study art; hopefully to be accepted into The Art University. Yes, chasing their dreams. I see many of them. Many, many of them."
Sigmund's eyes remained fixated on the painting. "Yes, but his dreams will not come to fruition. He has talent, but he lacks passion and intensity. Yet, I surmise only in art. Otherwise, he is a very intense young man. There is- there is something about him which is a little disturbing. Something brewing behind those intense eyes. He was almost sardonic, hostile, and bitter. Yes, can't put my finger on it."
Carl smiled wide. "Well, it is most definitely better you study him by proxy of a painting than studying me."
Sigmund raised his eyebrows, tilted his head, and looked sternly at his apprentice. He understood quite well Carl's remark. Though Carl was his apprentice, they felt very differently about theories of human behavior and, at times, their discussions became antagonistic and he felt as if Carl was too cavalier. Still, he respected this young man immensely, but was sure that respect was not of mutual feeling.
"May I ask of you a favor, Carl?"
"Please, tell me, what do you see in this painting."
Carl proceeded to get a hands length from the subject. "Well sir, I am not a connoisseur of art; but if you really want my opinion, it lacks life. The muted colors do not engage the observer, nor do they please the eye. The indistinct lines appear unsure and indecisive. It is as if the artist is trying to convey that life is meaningless and natural beauty is flawed.The flowers, they are wilted and parched, lifeless. It is quite depressing, at least for me."
Sigmund put his hand to his chin, walked closer to the painting, and examined it closely by gently passing his hand over the canvas. He then turned to walk a foot's pace to view the painting from another angle.
"Yes, Carl, I happen to concur with you."
He then walked to his desk, took a seat in his fine leather wing back chair and pulled out a note pad. Gesturing to Carl, "Well,thank you for your time, Carl. This has been interesting, indeed. Right now I must prepare for a meeting. I will keep you no longer. Please let Ms. Schiele know that I look forward to meeting with her. Just let me know when. I bid you good day, sir."
"And you, too, sir."
"Oh, please, one more thing before you leave, Carl."
"Could you look to the left hand corner of the painting and tell me the young man's name. He gave it to me in the park, but it escapes me at the moment."
"Of course. Let me see." Pulling out his reading spectacles, Carl bent closer to the painting.
"Sir, I believe the name is Adolf... Adolf Hitler."
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