The story behind the famous Bruckner caricature

The story behind the famous Bruckner caricature
Just about anyone who has read about Bruckner has seen this caricature (to the right) by Otto Böhler. Its title is "Bruckner and his Critics" - the critics being Eduard Hanslick, Max Kalbeck, Richard Heuberger.

But instead of being an original conception by Böhler, it appears to be a takeoff from a popular book of that time.

Struwwelpeter (by Heinrich Hoffmann) was published in 1845 and illustrated by the author. It comprises ten cautionary tales told in rhyme. The fourth is Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben ("the story of the black boys"), in which three boys who racially abuse a black boy are summarily punished by a giant who dunks them in his inkpot full of black ink.

The book was extremely popular both in German-speaking countries and elsewhere in translation.

Lawrence Mayes, who was kind enough to send me this story, adds that.."Clearly, most people seeing Böhler's picture would have seen the connection and possibly drawn some moral from it."

Struwwelpeter Sketch

Conductor, Gerd Schaller sent this translation of the poem:

There came a-walking past the door
A coal-pitch-raven-black young Moor.
The sun it smote him on his smeller,
And so he hoisted his umbrella.
Now came young Ludwig running by,
A-waving, he, his flag on high.
And Kaspar flew to join the band,
his toothsome pretzel in his hand.
While in his wake skips William free,
With hair neat-combed and hoop, you see.
The three they laugh and scoff and wink,
And mock at that poor Missing Link,
Because his skin is black as ink.
Forth stepped the mighty Nicholas, -
Who hates rude ways and slang and sass, -
And brought his ink-stand too, alas !
Says he, "You children list' to me -
Pray let the little stranger be;
He cannot help his sooty hue;
Bleach out at will, be white like you."
But still these urchins, lacking grace,
Did scoff and laugh right in the face,
And laughed yet heartier than before
At that poor pitch-black piteous Moor.
Then Nich'las he did rave and rage -
as per the picture on that page -
And grabbed those urchines trembling there,
By arm and crop and coat and heir !
Grabb'd William first and Ludwig next,
And Kaspar third (as per the text),
And quicker than the three could wink
He soused them in the turbid ink !
Soused them down with holy spite,
Soused them down with grim delight,
Soused them down clean out of sight !
You see them here, all black as sin -
Much blacker than that black boy's kin -
The Moor a-marchin in the light,
The Ink-Blot following dark as night.
Now if they had but hid their glee,
They'd still be white and fair to see.

And finally, here is a short video of the story (Narration in German)

Inky Boys Video