Friday, August 13, 2010

Portrait of Fanny

Yesterday I began thinking about Felix Mendelssohn and then about his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.

She married a painter named Wilhelm Hensel and here is what has always struck me about that: She was loved.

Wilhelm Hensel loved her.

He sketched portrait after portrait of her and in each one you can tell he could not get over her eyes. Above is one of his pictures of her. Here is another.

And another.

Fanny was a very gifted musician and it is strange to contemplate what her father supposedly said, that for Felix, music could be a life, but for her, it was an ornament.


Her middle name was Caecilie, and St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music.

In a way her parents must have known what they were getting into.

Here is a nocturne by Fanny Caecilie Mendelssohn Hensel.

1 comment:

  1. Very pretty nocturne. Doesn't it make you wonder about all the wasted talent that has passed through life? There's a wonderful vignette in Mark Twain's unfinished piece "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven" where Stormfield shows interest in meeting the greatest master of the English language. His guide introduces him to a Tennessee tailor named Edward J. Billings. Stormfield is startled, having expected to meet Shakespeare. Then the guide is startled and tells him, sure he can meet Shakespeare, who is on a lower tier, but Billings was the greatest of all. He just wasn't discovered during his lifetime. I wonder how many others weren't discovered, just like I wonder how many achieved fame they didn't really deserve. Anyway, it's a sweet and comforting story. I encourage anybody to look it up. The story of Fanny is sweet also, and like her brother who gave her love and support, she died far too young.