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Erwin Spindler 1860 - 1925.

This publication contains the first complete list of works of the painter Erwin Spindler. An attempt has been made in this way to preserve this artist from being forgotten, and at the same time to contribute to extending our knowledge of German Late Romantic painting.

Spindler’s surviving work is not very extensive. The art world took little notice of him during his lifetime. He did not leave any diaries and hardly any letters from which we might gain any considerable information. Neither have there been any individual exhibitions of Spindler’s work up to now. Nevertheless, he belongs to the many artists who have remained unknown but have left a lasting body of work in their lifetime that is worthy of notice.

Spindler was deafened at the age of five, but was later able to study at two German art academies due to his talent and special support by his parents. This is remarkable in so far as deafness always implies a limited ability to communicate, with considerable difficulties of perception, e.g. in a full-time course of studies. Spindler managed all that surprisingly well. His study of landscape painting, at Dresden at first, and later at Munich, lasted for about seven years, with ”distinguished” artistic work as the result.

The complete list of works which we have now contains 307 works: sketches, academy studies, detailed drawings from nature, watercolours, oil paintings, and a small number of pastels and etchings. It is published as a complement to an individual exhibition of Erwin Spindler’s work at the University of Leipzig planned for autumn 1999, and it came into being in a close cooperation of the Bibliothek Sprach- und Hörgeschädigtenwesen Leipzig [Leipzig Library for Matters Related to Speech Impediments and Hearing Impairment] and the custody of the University of Leipzig.

The complete list of works is subdivided into three groups, and arranged mostly in chronological order. The first group with the ”surviving, dated, and datable works” is the largest. 147 works of this group have been designated with the exact date or year by Spindler himself. 103 further works – not dated by the artist – have been assigned a suggested date; this is marked by an additional ”Um” [ca.] before the respective year. Evidence for these suggested datings was supplied by e.g. a special kind of paper which the artist preferred for sketching during a very limited time, or the assumption that the academy studies were very probably only done during his first year of studies at Dresden in the ”Gypssaal” [hall of plaster casts]. In other cases, specific sketches, drawings or watercolours were executed during a datable walking tour or journey, and in some cases the presumable year of origin could be determined through concrete events and statements with the help of the artist’s descendants. Thus roughly 80% of Erwin Spindler’s works have been included in this first group.

A second, smaller group, is made up by the ”surviving, non-datable works”, for which no reliable dating criteria could be established as yet.

Around the turn of the century, numerous postcards after watercolours by Erwin Spindler were published. Of these, we now know 63 printed postcards with German towns or landscapes as subject. They have also been included in the group of surviving works.
In the appendix to the complete list of works, there is another list with about 50 ”lost works”, of which we were able to learn from various history of art publications. The date of origin is also stated for most of these works, and some even survive in so-called ”isochromatic reproductions” from the turn of the century.

When Erwin Spindler died in 1926, the well-known animal sculptor Harry Christlieb called him ”one of the most important deaf artists, and his extraordinary artistic nature will ensure that he will be held in respected memory forever.”

Winkler, Joachim : Erwin Spindler 1860 - 1925. Werkverzeichnis. Broschur / Paperback, 96 Seiten, Signum 1999, ISBN 3-927731-65-X. EUR 14,31

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