Art Of The Day

Happy Birthday, Leo von König!

Celebrate by taking a look at von König’s illustration of buffoonish Sir John Falstaff, a recurring Shakespearian character. Blustery and boastful, Falstaff the knight spends most of his time drunkenly cavorting with petty criminals. Best pals with Prince Hal, Falstaff often attempts to lead the young royal into debauchery. We learn of the rotund rascal's exploits in Scene II of Henry IV. Prince Hal and Sir Falstaff stumble into the scene, and Falstaff innocently asks the time. The Prince jokingly replies:

“Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack
and unbuttoning thee after supper and sleeping upon
benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to
demand that truly which thou wouldst truly know.
What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the
day? Unless hours were cups of sack and minutes
capons and clocks the tongues of bawds and dials the
signs of leaping-houses and the blessed sun himself
a fair hot wench in flame-coloured taffeta, I see no
reason why thou shouldst be so superfluous to demand
the time of the day.”

You can read the rest of the play here.

Now, take a gander at von König’s depiction of Falstaff. The knight not so much looms as balloons in the distance, sword tipsily drawn. A chaotic crowd rushes towards the viewer, attempting to escape the sloshed slashes of Falstaff. This print was included in 1918 portfolio of drawings and etchings entitled “Visions of Shakespeare,” and was one of 32 images produced by a number of German artists. Trained in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, and Paris, von König also traveled throughout the Mediterranean and exhibited widely across Europe. 

Leo von König

Falstaff, Plate 6 from Shakespeare-Visionen

, c.1918
Lithograph on Marees, 7 15/16 x 14 3/8 in. (45.56 x 36.51 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Moselle Meals, 1974.98

Happy birthday, Leo von Konig! 


Leo von Konig

Falstaff, Plate 6 from Shakespeare-Visionen

, c.1918
Lithograph, 17 15/16 x 14 3/8 in. (45.56 x 36.51 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Moselle Meals, 1974.98