A Brief Survey of 19th Century North European Art

by Steven Levery

Wishing fervently to pursue an artistic calling, Bernhard Schleiermacher had spent most of the year 1863 in Italy, painting the stony hillsides around Sorrento, the cypresses at Villa d’Este, until Vater wrote him it was time to come home and learn the family business. Lest his wishes appear ambiguous, the old man had cut off Bernhard’s monthly stipend. Now young Schleiermacher sat in a dimly lit Hamburg café sipping his third absinthe of the waning dusk, exchanging glances with an attractive young woman at another table. Outside, mauve snowflakes the size of wolf spiders fell steadily onto Deichstrasse. She could be one of Rossetti’s models, he thought, minus the Pre-Raphaelite hair; but what was she doing wearing a straw boater in December? In his mind’s eye, he saw the two of them together in his rooms around midnight, going at it like a pair of thoroughbred locomotives working up a full head of steam. Her thinking tended more along the lines of mongoose and cobra. Minna Dorothea Krause was a beginning student at Klinik St. Georg, one of a few brave females trying to enter the medical profession at the time, and she was fresh from attending her first anatomy lesson demonstrated on a recently deceased corpse. She thought the boldly staring gentleman looked rather posh, thought he would look even posher eviscerated. She dissected him methodically with her eyes. Later that evening, as Bernhard slid himself discretely off the edge of a broken ice sheet into the freezing waters of the Elbe, Minna was headed in the opposite direction, strolling along Lange Reihe back to the St. Georg, when the sight of a child’s lost mitten brought her to her knees, weeping, in the snow. The same day, Edvard Munch was born just up the road in Ådalsbruk, Norway.

STEVEN LEVERY was born and raised in Queens, New York. Some of his past writing has appeared in print journals such as Spindrift and The Greensboro Review; in a recent anthology of chess-related short stories, Masters of Technique (Mongoose Press, 2010, Howard Goldowsky, Editor); and in the 2011 Unbound Press anthology, Story.Book. Other fictions, photos, and random sociopathic jottings appear semi-regularly around the web at sites such as Boston Literary Magazine, Word Riot, Litsnack, Everyday Weirdness, Postcard Shorts, 100 Word Story, and at his blogsite, http://ninetyfirstplace.blogspot.com/. He is currently employed by the University of Copenhagen, and lives in Holte, Denmark.

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