Monday, April 01, 2013


Life Imitates Art

Despatch from Sir Julian Bullard, British ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, to Sir Geoffrey Howe, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (March 7, 1988), in Matthew Parris and Andrew Bryson, Parting Shots (New York: Viking, 2010), p. 39:
Certain constants have operated here throughout my time. There are the regional differences, which become more evident as one learns to recognise the surnames, accents and facial characteristics which go with certain attitudes of mind. But I think it is still possible to talk of German national characteristics, and one of these is the seriousness, thoroughness, humourlessness, perfectionism and pedantry which have made the German the butt of so many anecdotes. (To quote a true one, the artist Philip Ernst painted the view from his window, leaving out a tree which spoiled the design: that night he was attacked by remorse, got up from bed—and cut down the tree.)
Barbara W. Tuchman, The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914 (1966; rpt. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996), p. 302:
The painter Philip Ernst, father of Max Ernst, when painting a picture of his garden omitted a tree which spoiled the composition and then, overcome with remorse at this offense against realism, cut down the tree.
The painter was Philipp Ernst (1862–1942).

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


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