PIDU: Der Fahnenträger (The Flagbearer)

“Der Fahnenträger“ – “The Flagbearer

The issue here is the actual painting, not Mr. Melcher’s caption.

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38 thoughts on “PIDU: Der Fahnenträger (The Flagbearer)

  1. Maybe it’s a pun – isn’t that a BEAR at his feet?

    Seriously, tho, I’ve found mention of the painting, but no explanation . . . yet.

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  2. It sold for almost $17,000, which isn’t really much. It’s also called ‘The Standard Bearer’. I could make some puns on that, but I won’t.

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  3. (I grew up in a NY state country neighborhood on a lake, which was development specially created for NYC Germans to summer in. I wasn’t told that I was 1/4 German until I was in High School; It was even later, when I was talking to my sister about how interesting it was that so many Germans lived there, that I found out why. I became very familiar with their sensibilities, and can get more out of German writing, I think, as a result.).

    träger is in all sorts of fashion reviews where it’s referring to [the] wearer of the outfit. (e.g. Der Spiegel, fortunately translated to English).
    Thinking about it now, I have noticed fashion people on TV here (in the USA) often talk, very impersonally, about the models sort of as a structure that’s holding up their creation. So träger, in Germany, is used often as a wearer (supporter) of clothes, but in a every-one-knows-it-doesn’t-actually-exactly-mean-wearer way.

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  4. What’s to or not to understand? It’s a study of the human figures. The bear may or may not be symbolic of something but it might have just appealed to him.

    His works are interesting. His subjects seem ill at ease.

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  5. I think Woozy’s right about human figures (child / youth / adult), but I wonder if Poland is not involved or if I’m trying to read too much out of the picture. The standard; the bear (symbol of Russia, Poland’s Nemesis); the twins (Poland/Lithuania association in 1569?); I can’t decipher the figures on the ceiling, though.

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  6. Woozy, you don’t think somebody described as “flagbearer” who’s wearing the flag draped around his nether regions calls for some clarification?

    This is, at the very least, an untraditional flagpole.

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  7. “This one’s even weirder . . .”

    What’s weird about it? It’s just a picture of a bunch of chicks.

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  8. Poland’s flag is white on top, red on the bottom. The flag in the painting is Monaco’s.

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  9. “Woozy, you don’t think somebody described as “flagbearer” who’s wearing the flag draped around his nether regions calls for some clarification?”

    Mmmm…. not really. I don’t see it as a very deliberate wrapping around the nether regions so much as simply draped around his body.

    i’m sure there’s an allegory or symbolism involved as there is in most works of art but it’s not unusual it will elude me entirely.

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  10. @ Olivier – The Polish flag has white on top, not red. The banner might mean Monaco, or possibly Austria, but I think Hesse[n] is the most likely candidate.

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  11. The flag was adopted around 1948, after the painting. Hesse wasn’t politically recognized ’til 1945. Well, according to the Wikipedia article; I’ll gladly bow to superior knowledge . . .

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  12. @ Andréa – Ooops! I saw the date for the coat of arms, and did not notice the separate date for the flag. I guess it really is a big advantage if one knows how to read.

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  13. Polish law specifies that when the flag is displayed vertically, white is on the left, red on the right.

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  14. I also think this flagbearer looks like Henryk Sienkiewicz.

    The Monaco theory is interesting but I think that in 1892, a German painter would be more likely to paint about Poland, rather than Monaco.

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  15. I’ve been puzzled by this since it ran at GoComics. I haven’t been able to find any information about this painting in either English or German. It’s made more difficult, because the last German Olympian to carry the flag before Reunification was also named Thoma. Identifying the flag might help, but it could easily be for some smaller political unit or even some club or association.

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  16. It’s not the knowing; it’s the doing. ‘-)

    Personally, I think CIDUers’ ‘takes’ on this painting are probably more amusing than the original symbolism, whatever it may be.

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  17. @ Mitch4 – There is a Wikimedia entry that gives a few technical details, and a German art site seems to indicate that it is currently available for sale.
    P.S. @ Olivier – Brandenburg does have the same flag as Hessen, but I discounted it because it did not become a separate political unit until after WWII. Thoma travelled to and lived in Italy at least twice, so he was probably closely acquainted with all the Mediterranian city states.

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  18. Andrea: I cannot not pick a bone thrown at me!
    I’ve been gnawing on that Brandenburg idea…
    The first margrave of Brandenburg was Albert the Bear (!): early history, hence an infant; the bear could also mean Berlin (it’s on the city’s coat of arms), the main city of the province.
    From 1266 to 1319, Brandenburg was held by the two lines of Brandenburg-Stendal and Brandenburg-Salzwedel, who jointly shared the title of Margrave: the two youths? Or maybe because from 1618 onward, Brandenburg was ruled in personal union with the Duchy of Prussia. Depends on whether the characters represent Brandenburg itself or Brandenburg’s rulers.
    The flagbearer: then current leader (1892)? He doesn’t look like Wilhelm II but there also were Upper Presidents and Land Directors during that period. Maybe it’s a political campaign poster 😉 ?

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  19. I think Olivier is on to something. The guy wrapped in the flag looks a little like Albert von Levetzow, who was Land Director at the time of the painting, though it’s hard to be sure. It’s an odd subject for Thoma, who lived in the south and west of Germany. Maybe it was a commission.

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  20. @ DemetriosX – If this was a commission, I think the customer would have refused to pay. The subject has been rendered with a very scrawny, unimpressive figure.
    P.S. I like Olivier’s analysis pointing toward Berlin/Brandenburg, even if going that far back was probably overkill. On the other hand, semi-mythical characters from the 13th century might be easier to pin down than topical references from the 19th century.
    P.P.S. I’d like to retract the P.S. from my comment at 6:47pm (yesterday), but it hasn’t shown up yet.

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  21. I used to think flags were distinctive. Now, we have Monaco, Poland, Hesse, Brandenburg, Tyrol, Indonesia and who knows who using the same colors in similar patterns.

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  22. The book wasn’t much help. There’s no commentary about the painting in it. Tyrol would make a little more sense for Thoma, but then the flag is upside down.

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  23. Lol: you remind me of sixth grade, when we used to draw flags using the BASIC language on a Thomson mo5.

    I’m sorry the book was useless; another thread leads to eternal interrogations (the last one was about “des mots croisés à quatre cases”).

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