Paul Bruno Hetze (1866-1901) was a German artist specializing in portraiture and landscape painting. From 1889 he studied at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. From Johann Caspar Herterich’s workshop he acquired an interest in nature observation, and from Wilhelm von Diez’s workshop for colorism. From 1895 he exhibited at numerous shows in Munich, Berlin and Dresden. Associated with the Munich Secession, he illustrated the local magazine “Jugend”.
Description of the painting:
“Solitude” was most likely purchased by Edward Alexander Raczynski in 1899 from the Munich Secession exhibition. Its earlier version was presented by the artist in 1897 at the VII International Art Exhibition at the local Glaspalast, and a slightly larger version of the Rogalin composition at the winter “Secession”*. Hence, in 1901 it was purchased for the Munich Neue Pinakothek**.
According to M. Piotr Michalowski, “Solitude”, depicting a monk walking through a beech forest, is kept in the late-romantic painting of Arnold Böcklin*. Indeed, similarities can be found here to the peaceful nature of the Swiss artist’s “In the Forest Silence” from 1885 from the collections of the National Museum in Poznań***. However, that is where the similarities end. The place of the figure on the fantastic unicorn symbolizing innocence and purity, and the squirrel associated with fertility, is occupied by the figure of a meditative monk, and the place of the emerging among the trees of a distant, ethereal, romantic mountain landscape is quite tangible, a sunny, lowland landscape on a summer day. The delicate aerial perspective is replaced by a color perspective, built flat, clearly differentiated in color, synthetic-secession spot. The fantastic-fairytale aura of Böcklin’s painting is opposed by the magic of nature’s peace with the almost tangible “smell of meadows and rustle of the forest”**** of Hetze. To the disturbing, mysterious symbolism of the Swiss, the melancholic, symbolic mood of the German’s painting – built of contrasts of colors and shapes of bright fields and a clear sky, and on the other hand a dark forest, in which we find a lonely man of his own choice.