Johann Peter Hasenclever (German, 1810-1853)
Examination of Hieronymous Jobs, 1842
Oil on canvas 49 in. x 63 in. (124.46 cm x 160.02 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection1872.104
Born in the town of Remscheid near Düsseldorf, the talented but rebellious painter Johann Peter Hasenclever studied at the city’s academy of art beginning in 1827, originally as an architect. He soon turned to history painting, and left the academy after four years after a disagreement with its director. He returned in 1832 and studied under Ferdinand Hildebrandt, absorbing the humor and attention to human nature he found in the paintings of 17th-century Dutch masters. Hasenclever was especially talented as a satirist, a skill he retained when he moved to Munich in 1838 to study with the still-life painter Johann Wilhelm Preyer and his brother Gustav. After a trip to Northern Italy in 1840–42, he returned to Düsseldorf, where he continued his rebellion against the authority of the Academy until his death.
This painting depicts a scene from the 1784 satirical poem Jobsiade by Carl Arnold Kortum, a rollicking tale relating the misadventures of a student of theology. In the episode depicted here, the hard-drinking Jobs is tested on the subject of bishops. Mistaking the examiners’ intent, he describes the drink of that name rather than the ecclesiastical authority, much to their consternation. Though the poem is not familiar to modern audiences, Hasenclever captures the varying reactions of the examiners, making his painting a study of universal human emotions. A second version of this painting, purchased by the Bavarian King Ludwig I, is now in the Neue Pinakothek in Munich.