Maximillian Lenz, A World, 1899

The focal point of the painting is the man in a drab-coloured suit, coat, and hat, smoking a cigarette as he walks along absorbed in his own thoughts and worries. This city dweller looks out of place in the green field. It’s almost as if Lenz has painted a surreal painting before Surrealism became an art movement twenty years later.

Behind the man we see young women in blue dresses frolicking in the flowers, while to his right there is a line of women in translucent robes holding boughs of laurel. They are probably the Muses; they look concerned that the man is ignoring them entirely. It’s safe to assume that this painting is a self-portrait of the artist at a time when he is experiencing a creative block.

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