Pen & Ink 20 x 29 cm
The First Chapter Departure
The young Traveller has prepared himself prudently for his great undertaking. In the right
hand he carries a small pennant, indication of his rank or association, useful in foreign
parts to suggest possible affinities to likeminded people. The riding rod in his left hand
should persuade, of course only in a very light and friendly manner, his somewhat doubtful
looking horse to trot a bit faster. The basket holds a few jars, a loaf of bread and a knife.
The abacus is useful to repel illogical assertions or to test others on their
straightforwardness. A thermometer to measure the enthusiasm, a hourglass to keep the
dreams well in check and a compass against digressions are, as everybody knows, essential
equipment for the fearless wayfarer. A bottle with eau-de-vie helps in difficult times to raise
the morale. The sword speaks its own language: as a defense in dire need, against cruel
barbarians for example, must its use be permitted. The big rubber ball serves, depending on
circumstances, for a game of soccer or as a safety measure in a turbulent sea. The little
book in the left pocket hides its title, provided it got one.
It may be a recipe book, a travel guide, a critical assessment of the Odyssey, a diary or, for
reasons of simplicity, all four rolled into one.
Far to the West shimmers the new moon high in the sky, next to it gleams Venus serenely
and still. It proves that our pilgrim does not set out early in the morning, as should be the
case, but late in the evening, and that his journey will lead him therefore into darkness
To the right stands a tall campanile, decorated with a mandala. The hint at far-eastern
influences in Christian structures as they appear for example in Venice, are here evident as
well. From an open window high up gazes a clown at the scene below him. He wears a three-
pronged cap and seems a bit put off by what he sees. Way back grows a Tree of Knowlege
into the bucolic landscape, and it is certainly not by accident that the perspective’s
vanishing lines have here their beginning and their end. To the left looms an imposing
building against the last light of the setting sun, its beautifully decorated mediaeval façade
already deep in shadow. From another window another jester with a Phrygian cap suspends
an egg over the head of a crawling zealot who looks somewhat demented and holds up a tiny
cross. A tall huntsman leans against the pillar, keeping a large dog on a short leash. Both
seem calm and disinterested, but have a faintly threatening air. The base of the pillar is, in
its visible parts, decorated with a sun and a moon.
Nearer to the beholder a peddler displays his worthless consumer goods. Next to him a
trollop puts her naked body on show, offering its brief use for money. High up, fixed to both
buildings, someone has strung a tightrope across the square or court. There a troupe of
acrobats is staging their tricks and stunts: A turbaned rowdy rides a servile flunkey with a
chapeau-clap and whips a gullible pedestrian out of the way. A thick-necked brute waving a
richly ornamented but tattered flag with a sausage as emblem is soon to meet a sweetly
smiling and totally unsuspecting juggler. A horned satyr and his consort have some fun. A
fellow with a rope around his neck got himself into serious trouble, because Fortuna gave
her favors to his competitor, and that one lets him dangle a little before the final plunge. To
the right, out of the way, sits a couple and loves each other. On a long ladder a dog-headed
guardian carries a newcomer upwards to take part in the show. The fellow looks quite
content, waves wine bottle and smoked ham and doesn’t seem to know at all that tightropes
bear also dangers.
Under the ladder a little magician is standing before his lovely consort as if shielding her.
He shakes with a frozen smile the bony hand of a knight in black armor who is followed by
his lieutenant, an ugly hunch-back carrying the many tools of his master. A black raven
walks beside him, reminiscent of those who once were circling with harsh cries over wintry
The three sinister personages seem to be members of a cast or posse that is making its
reverence to the little magician, and the slightly alarmed observer realizes with certain
relief that, where visible, some luminous figures form also part of the strange company, like
a unicorn or the girl with the two crucibles.
Taken all together, one may get indeed the impression as if in the First Performance,
especially on the tight-rope, a circus-like act were underway. But this is only insofar the
case as certain basic ingredients for the crea-tion of a Traveling Circus are present. To win
a measure of honest applause from the critical audience they, the ingredients, need still a
lot of refinement.