Page size, 11 x 16cms.
I wanted to show as much as I could of this beautiful little work from my collection because so little appears to be known about the graphic work of Rossing who nevertheless had a long and distinguished career as an artist and educator.
He was born in 1897 in Gmunden in Austria and aged 16 went to the Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich. He was active as a printmaker in this period, producing wood and lino cuts which drew him to the attention of the Hyperion Press (Knorr and Wirth) publishers of this edition of Hauff's folk tale, The Cold Heart. In 1922 he was to become a teacher at the Folkwang School in Essen until 1931, and from 1934-1944 at the Staatliche Hochschule fur Kiumst erziehung in Berlin-Schoneberg and from 1947 at the Akademe der Bilden Kunst in Stuttgart (see exhibition catalogue, Prints and Drawings of the Weimar Republic, 1987).
My copy is signed and numbered. Wilhelm Hauff (1802 - 1827) began to publish a series of fairy tales from 1826 , later collated into Fairy Tale Almanacs.
The charcoal burner Peter Munk is presented with a series of Folk Lore offers, three wishes, tons of cash, wordly success. Two characters appear p- the Glass Man (little) and Dutch Michael (giant). Both of the presences have their sinister side and clearly manipulate him - particularly in his desires to advance his career beyond charcoal, to get cash and prestige.
But Dutch Michael (row B no 3) offers cash and success if you agree to surrender your own soft beating heart and have a cold stone heart replacement. Peter goes for the transplant and sees his Mother ejected from the family cottage without a tear. He curls his lips at beggars and hoards his loot. Material benefits in his case are always accompanied by the appearence of flaws in his own character idleness, stupidity and general incompetence.
Rossing enjoys the depiction of the landscape, the huge trees and density of the Black Forest. Tiny figures lurk in the crevices, giants step out from behind trunks. It is a scary tale. At one stage Peter finds his own sweet wife, Elizabeth, giving a glass of wine to a beggar and kills her with a blow to her brow with the handle of his whip.
Rossing makes great play of Dutch Michael's Heart Room, where jars of hearts are ranged up on the walls (row C 2) . Peter reclaims his own heart with a ruse suggested by the little Glass Man who gives him a Glass Cross for the confrontation (row D 2) and Peter granted a redemption that results in the return of his Wife and Mother (row C 3).
Rossing has shown the metamorphosis of the Glass Man into a violent violent thug with eyes "like soup-plates" who calls Peter a worm. "The wood spirit seized him roughly by the throat and threw him on the ground. with such force that all Peter's bones cracked."
As is usual in the genre the tale ends with an urging to be happy with your lot in life even if you have little in the way of cash and belongings. In this way it is perhaps a reflection of an anti-capitalist agrarianism that might have caught the artist's attention.