I Found A Painting By My Dumpster Today...
....And Grabbed It.
There is a certain truth to the phrase: "every man's trash is another man's treasure." I do believed I learned this truth today.
After a dreary, rainy day in Pennsylvania (which are common, but still depressing), I discovered a painting that had been laid up against my apartment complex's dumpster as I threw away some of my own trash. At first, I paid it no attention as I am not in the habit of recovering other peoples' disposed of items. But upon further investigation, I changed my mind.
As is visible in the picture, the painting is of a young girl in a red dress playing the piano. She appears lost in the creation of her music and appears to be without thought as she sits at her piano, and her beautiful and vibrant solitude inspired me. Mainly, it was the style of the print that fascinated me, for I am not accustomed to works of art that seem to incorporate themes of both light and dark as well as a single, solitary focus. Perhaps what drew me the most was the fact that this young pianist appears to be playing alone and in a large room, all the while wearing a magnificent dress.
Needless to say, I took this painting from the dumpster and ran back to my apartment so that my neighbors wouldn't see me carrying someone else's trash. Once inside and out of the rain, I proceeded to research the painting's origins in hopes that I would learn more about its subject. I was surprised to discover that not much is known about this painting, nor its painter. Several sites featured people who had either stumbled upon the work in a consignment shop or had inherited it after the death of a relative. In addition, there were scores of people who were desperately searching for this painting due to its sentimental value.
The painting I have recovered from its intended final resting place is in fact quite old, and unfortunately in very poor condition. I believe that the painting had been hiding in one of my neighbor's apartments and was discarded with the remainder of the spring cleaning trash. The frame is not in decent shape, and parts of it actually crumbled to the touch. But the print itself seemed relatively well preserved with the exception of some newly-sustained water damage due to the rainy weather of that afternoon.
Which brings me to my next point- how could someone just toss a beautiful work of art such as this? As I said before, the painting itself is in less than ideal condition, however I can only imagine that the beauty of its elements remain the same as they were when they were first committed to canvas. Such a travesty!
For those art fanatics out there, or for anyone is simply more intelligent than I in the manner of artwork, the artist's name is signed at the bottom, a "M. Ditlef". The painting itself is titled "Sonata" and is the sister of several other works illustrated in the same Victorian style. And because I was unable to discover any information whatsoever about its origins, I have ceased investigating this painting for now.
.....what I DID discover, however, is that the picture is worth over $300.00, even in very poor shape.
Needless to say, my find brightened my day and I do intend on keeping the painting; I quite admire the young lady that it features. My question is who the subjects of these exquisite works actually are; I don't doubt in the least that they were real people. But who were they, and what was it about them that inspired this mysterious artist to feature them front and center? Judging from their clothing, I can only assume that these ladies were royalty of some sort, but from which lineage, I am unsure. All of these works appear to be done in the style of Victorian art, which typically features bright- and often garish- colors.
According to the very minimum amount of information available about this painting, the artist was responsible for creating similar, Victorian-style works of art involving other striking young women playing various musical instruments. The quality of these pieces is high, and the originals as well as preserved prints of those originals are highly sought after.
Perhaps even more interesting is that in the video below, this print is referred to as "Allegro" instead of "Sonata". The one featured in this video is in fair greater condition than mine is; however, this is the exact same print and even the frame appears to be the same! But according to the consensus in the comment section, one thing is for sure: this is the "Sonata".
Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbour.— Giotto di Bondone
Have you ever found a treasure in someone else's trash?
Very little is known about the artist who created the painting from which this print- and many others- originated. According to the link below, only two of his works have ever been recovered. It is uncertain who exactly this individual was, if he used a pseudonym for any of his works, or if the reason for the lack of information was an untimely end to the artist's life. One possible theory includes that "M. Ditlef" is actually the same person as Antoni Ditlef, who signed his works as "Allegro, M. Ditlef". There is a strong possibility that he changed his signature, or that over the course of time damage to the original paintings caused his signings to appear as though his name was "M. Ditlef". However- according to the image at right- they are, in fact, two different people. Overall, there is a noticeable lack of solid information on either of these two people, the paintings that were signed with their common last name, or the subjects that inspired these creations.
What a mystery to ponder on a lonely, rainy day!
Since I originally published this article, I've stumbled across some additional sites that feature both information and the works of Antoni Ditlef. Certainly, one can see the similarities between this gentlemen and his elusive counterpart, M. Ditlef. He now has his own Pinterest page and his prints of her original works are now advertised on many sites, but he still remains mysterious in the sense that I have yet to find any biographical information about him at all. Unfortunately, it appears that this happens frequently to the less-renown artists of old whose works fail to impress the mainstream.
If nothing else, I owe the negligent person who discarded this magnificent print a "thank you" for the mystery their former possession has brought into my life, and I anticipate discovering more information about the artist and his life. From what little I have already unearthed, this Ditlef sounds like a curious yet cryptic figure who created beautiful pictures despite a lack of renown and fame.
Quite the true artist, if you ask me!