Wolffgang Gschaidter - Symbol of Innsbruck

Themenbereiche: Disability Studies
Textsorte: Artikel
Releaseinfo: from: Flieger, Petra/ Schönwiese, Volker (Hg.): Das Bildnis eines behinderten Mannes. Bildkultur der Behinderung vom 16. bis ins 21. Jhd. Wissenschaftlicher Sammelband. Neu Ulm: Verlag AG SPAK 2007 Translation by Natalie Mair, june 2010
Copyright: © Christian Mürner, Volker Schönwiese 2007

1. The portrait of Wolffgang Gschaidter

Andreas Spängler (1589 - after 1669)[1], who signed his work in the bottom centre of the portrait, depicts Wolffgang Gschaidter lying on a noble bed. The whole black framed picture is filled by Gschaidter's naked, haggard, frontally displayed body and the bed. The supervision of the picture is very unusual; it seems as if the bed that Gschaidter is lying in was positioned vertically. This perspective is implied through the decorated bed frame that has six short boards or widths of wall paper rolls that tilt from the middle outwards. It seems unlikely that the viewer is looking at the person from a stand or above. Underneath the decoration of the top bed stead, there is an engraving with the following writing in capital letters: DER . KRANCKH . ODER . KRVMBE . TISCHLER . ZV . INSPRVGG (The ill or crooked carpenter of Innsbruck). Above the writing, part of the printed leaflet is repeated. The bed is covered with a white sheet; the even creases create an impression of a good base. Wolffgang Gschaidter's head is relaxing on two dark-coloured pillows lying on top of each other. The bottom pillow is nearly double the size as the top one. The ends of the pillows have knotted fastenings. Gschaidter's head is slightly leaning to one side. He has short dark hair. His wrinkled forehead is in the form as a horseshoe. His nose is big and straight. His eyes are wide open, dark and low-lying and have dark circles around them. Gschaidter's gaze seems sad, maybe anxious, a little bit hopeful, but he is looking straight past the beholder. He has shades on his cheeks. His beard is short and neat. The upper lip is lifted and his mouth slightly open, so that one can see the incisor and eye tooth. This expression creates a despondent and painful facial expression. His shoulders are sunken, his shoulder bones stand out and the ribs can be counted individually. Beneath the breastbone and the last ribs, his stomach is noticeably emaciated. He has protruding nipples and a protruding navel. His arms are very thin; they seem only bones and skin without any muscles. His right arm is elongated away from the body and the right hand is lying on a separate small cloth that is knotted at the ends. His knuckles are standing out, are very thin, but short and his index finger has a growth, maybe a finger nail that is too long. The left arm is slightly bent, but is stretched out right next to the body. His thighs are lying on top of each other, from the beholder's point of view they are turned to the left side. Between the thighs there is a rough, square-folded sheet that also covers Gschaidter's genital. His lower legs are on top of each other, one foot is bent more than the other. He has skin bent upwards and cartilage growth or too long nails on both small toes and the big toe. His feet are lying on a small cloth. Underneath the feet the same decoration of the bed continues. The year the leaflet was printed is engraved at the end of the bed: 1620. However, between number 16 and 20 there is the abbreviation DOCF. The philologist Wolffgang Harms from Munich adds:

The monogram DOCF (engraved in the bed) means ‚Dominicus Custos fecit' and this indicates that Spengler probably continued the work that was started or left behind by his predecessor Custos.[2]

To the left and right of the year there is an imprint in the decoration, a short line written in Latin that is cut off after four words: FAC EA QVAE MORIENS FACTA FVISSE VELIS (Live your life the way you will wish to have lived it when dying). In the corner of the picture, on a small corbel at the level of Gschaidter's head, there is a crucifix slightly leaning to one side. Compared with Gschaidter's bony frame, Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns and a loincloth, seems quite muscular. At the bottom of the cross there is a small scull and other bones. The full-figure portrait of Wolffgang Gschaidter takes up three quarters of the leaflet; the other part is filled with writing. There is no doubt that the portrait dominates the picture, but can it be understood without the text?

[1] cf. Hochenegg, Hans: Die Tiroler Kupferstecher. Innsbruck: Wagner, 1963, S. 23ff. Hochenegg nennt den Kupferstich Gschaidters ein "ziemlich rohes Bild eines im Bett liegenden Mannes".245

[2] , Wolfgang: Die Sammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1985, S.467.

2. The text on the leaflet about Wolffgang Gschaidter

The title of the leaflet is in three parts and three different type sizes, the title in the middle is the largest:

"Symbolum Oenipontanum, Ynßprügger Warzaichen. Das ist / Der kranck / oder krumme Tischler zu Ynßprugg / welcher vber das fünfzehndt Jahr in vnerhörter Schwachhait ligt / vnd noch Lebendig zu sehen ist." [3]

Symbolum Oenipontanum, symbol of Innsbruck. This is the ill/ or crooked carpenter of Innsbruck/ who has been this week for 15 years and can still be seen alive.

Underneath the copper engraving two texts are printed. Two four-lined paragraphs next to each other in Latin verses and underneath, separated by a thin line, a full text. Below, they are transcribed, translated and reproduced fully.

Aspectas sanam malesano in corpore mentem

Sicut pes curuus, sic quoque curua manus.

An magicas artes, incantamentaqué passus,

Nescit, naturae sit vitiumuè suae.

Scit tamen affixum se per tria lustra grabato,

Atque Machaonias nil potuisse manus.

Si nunquam viuum vidisti, cerne, cadauer;

Iste quod est viuus, mortuus illud eris.

[You see a healthy mind in an insane body

the crooked hands are as crooked as the foot.

Is he a victim of occult art, has he been bewitched?

Is it nature's mistake or his own mistake?

But he knows that he has been tied to the bed for the last fifteen years.

And that the healing hands of the doctors cannot help him.

If you have never seen a living corpus, look at him!

He represents what you will be when you are dead.]

[Translation by Christine Lehne[4] from Latin to German]

Allhie wirdt dir / O Christen Mensch / ein lebendiger Tod / oder Todtlebendige / gantz vunerhörte / doch warhafftige Bildnuß noch heutiges tags allhie zu Ynßprugg bey der Kirchen der dreyen Heiligen / vor Augenligend / zum Spiegel fürgestellt / dich der allgemainen / diser Welt mühe vnd Armseligkait damit zuerinnern. Gschaidter / bey nahe in 50. Jahr alt / zu gedachten Ynßprugg / hievor seines Handtwerks gewester künstlicher Tischler oder Schreiner / welcher noch seyn Ehewürthin sambt einem Sohn / vnnd zwayen Töchtern im Leben hat / ist vor Sechzehen Jaren / als Er frisch vnnd gesundt war / an einem starcken Kopff vnnd Zanwehe vnuersehens erkrancket / Alsdann nach dreyen tagen sich derselbe grosse Schmertzen inn den lincken Armb vnnd Rucken / vnnd fortan alle vnnd jede Glider seines gantzen Leibs gesetzt dieselbe solchermassen eingenommen / erkrümbt vnnd gelämbt / dass es nunmehr bey 15. gantzen Jaren aneinader kein ainiges Glüd / ausser der Augen vnd Zungen / wenigist nit moviren / bewegen / noch rüren kan: wie er dann eben von dem jenigen Beth vnd Ort / da er noch auff diese Grund ligen thuet / niemals verändert worden / auch ausser Todsgefahr (weil Er allerdings wie ein hültzen Bild erstarret) nit bewegt werden kan. Wilt du dann / O Mensch / dein Geistlichen Fürwitz üeben vnd büessen / vnd der Statt Ynßprugg Symbolum oder Warzaichen sehen / magstn es bey zeit thuen / beneben auch diesem armen Krippel ein heiligs Allmösen mitthailen / wie zuemal in gemelter newen Kirchen der dreyen Heiligen dein fernere Andacht verrichten.

Gedruckt zu Ynsprugg bey Daniel Bawr im Jahr 1620

O Christian people/ here you can see/ a dead-alive man/ unbelievable/ but true images/ can still be seen here in Innsbruck at the church Dreiheiligen/ just like a mirror/ to remind one of the difficulties and misery of this world. Wolffgang Gschaidter/ nearly fifty years old/ here in Innsbruck/ he used to be a carpenter/ with a wife and son/ and two daughters/ sixteen years ago/ when he was still fit and healthy/ he fell ill with a bad head and tooth ache/ After three days the same pain extended to his left arm and back and then to all of his limbs/ all over his body/ crooked and paralyzed/ now already for fifteen whole years/ he cannot move anything/ except his eyes and tongue: therefore he was never moved from this bed and place/ he is still lying there/ not in a life-threatening condition (but as stiff as in a wooden picture) and cannot be moved. So do you/ O human being/ want to be curious and repent/ and see the symbol of Innsbruck/ leave holy alms next to this poor cripple/ and devout in the church Dreiheiligen.

Printed in Innsbruck by Daniel Bawr in 1620

(translated from German to English)

[3] Comment on translation (Latin-German) see German text

[4] Comment to the Translation by Christine Lehne from Latin to German: Il. 2, 728ff); Das Adj. Machaonus 3 wird hier metonymisch für den Arztberuf gebraucht. Symbolum: Hat lt. dem Glossarium Latino-Germanicum sehr oft die Bedeutung Wahrzeichen, (Kenn)-Zeichen, was sich auch mit der Übersetzung deckt. Anmerkung: Das Latein der Neuzeit orientiert sich im Gegensatz zum Mittellatein stark an der "klassischen Sprache", wodurch sich auch der Wortgebrauch (mit einigen Erweiterungen) nicht stark von diesem unterscheidet. Quellen: Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, Leipzig 1900; Glare, Peter G. W. (Hrsg.): Oxford Latin Dictionary. Oxford. Verlag, 1988; Diefenbach, Lorenz: Glossarium Latino-Germanicum mediae et infimae aetatis. Darmstadt: Verlag, 1968 (Nachdruck der Ausgabe Frankfurt a. M. 1857); Forcellini, Egidio / Furlanetto, Giuseppe (Hrsg.): Lexikon totius Latinitatis. Padua: Verlag, 1940; Eintrag "Machaon" in: Der Neue Pauly, Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler 1996 - 2003, Bd. 7, 622.

3. Content-related aspects of the leaflet

The leaflet's text, written in Latin, is linked to Juvenal (around 60 until 140) and the Roman topos of a healthy mind and body (mens sana in corpore sano).[5] The question about the cause of this 'crooked' body is raised. Three possibilities are listed: magic, nature or vicious behaviour. Not even medical treatment could change this condition, therefore he conforms to the illustration of death for the living, the baroque "Memento mori" ("Remember you must die").

The German text also begins with a deep connection to death, illness and disability by writing about a dead-alive person, but true portrait. It has the purpose of a mirror that should remind of the general restrictions of life. There is bibliographic information about Wolffgang Gschaidter on the leaflet: he is apparently nearly 50 years old, worked as a carpenter or joiner, has a wife, one son and two daughters. Sixteen years ago when he was "still strong and healthy", he suddenly fell ill with a bad head and tooth ache. After three days this pain hit his left arm, then spread to the rest of his limbs, crooked and paralyzed his body. He could only move his eyes and tongue. His condition was not life-threatening, but he was completely stiff, lying in front of the church Dreiheiligen in Innsbruck. If someone wanted to satisfy his or her curiosity and see the symbol of Innsbruck, Wolffgang Gschaidter, one could do this in front of this church if one donated for the 'poor cripple' and then one could say one's prayers in the church.

The central concepts shown in the following interpretation of the leaflet seem to be a connection between generalisation and personalisation, a combination of symbolisation and concretization. The authenticity of the presentation is assured, but at the same time moved into didactical distance and allows indulgence. Gschaidter's pain is specific, curiosity however general. The "poor cripple" is linked to pity and therefore distanced from his personal living condition. The words that describe Wolffgang Gschaidter's health condition, such as ill, crooked or paralyzed, coincide with the traditional perception and illustration model of a 'poor cripple'. Since the 16th century the word 'cripple' has been understood as a 'crooked and paralysed' person, someone who has not all his/her limbs or cannot move all his/her limbs, because of nature, paralysation or wounds.[6] The word 'cripple' was related to 'crawling'. The word was meant to express the way the person moved and indicate corresponding paralyzed limbs. This word has always been a depreciatory term and related to the word devil, demoniac, beggar and fool. The trader Lucas Rem from Augsburg writes in his diary in 1536 that his leg was really paralyzed and crooked. He means unfavourable complaints from travelling that he hoped to heal with baths.[7] The term 'poor cripple' can be interpreted as a mimetic model, as a projection surface for negative images. The plea for pity, a pitiful gaze on Gschaidter and the leaflet, connect the term 'poor cripple' with the mentioned term 'dead-alive' and therefore presents Gschaidter's life as 'insignificant', as a life that is a burden and can only be approved as a 'gracious' functionalization.

The numerous and diverse leaflets from the Early Modern Period, especially with the representation of children and adults with disabilities, have hardly been analyzed, described or acknowledged in terms of disability and the point of view of people with disabilities. This can be seen as a lack of analysis concerning the history of civilization.

The fragmentation into Latin verses and a German text in prose-form is not as unusual as the presentation of the portrait in a high angle shot[8]. This kind of bilingualism also exists in other leaflets. In newer researches, the leaflets of the early modern period are not accredited to the sole satisfaction of curiosity of people anymore as this leaflet tries to misguide ("superbia").

The leaflets as first mass media are not just counted to the popularising sensation press as forerunner of newspapers and the present tabloids, but the interest in these leaflets is localised in all the social walks of life, the Latin lines prove this. During the 16th and 17th century, only few people could read the German text, this increases the importance and power of the copper engraving and portrait of Wolffgang Gschaidter. Was the theological, socio-political and pedagogical intention of the text interpreted? Does the portrait stand for itself or should it motivate people to read the story and understand its instructions? There is no reason to think that Wolffgang Gschaidter did not look just like the copper engraver represented him. This personal portrait accentuates the exceptional position. The main aspects of the illustration are in the realistic, authentic documentation. Surely, they are also artistically styled; therefore the frame has conventional decoration. Gschaidter could hardly move his limbs by himself, so one can really believe what one sees in the portrait. What is new in the text is the comment about the active eyes and the tongue. Does the reference to the tongue want to express that Gschaidter could speak and eat properly? Did he talk to the people who came to visit him? What did he feel? There is no information on the leaflet about the role and behaviour of the beholders; it was probably a letter of advice or a kind of programme leaflet. The relation between Gschaidter and the beholder is implicit.

[5] cf. Mürner, Christian: Philosophische Bedrohungen, Frankfurt a. M.: Lang, 1996, S. 74ff.

[6] Der digitale Grimm. Frankfurt a. M.: Zweitausendeins, 2005.

[7] Greiff, B. (Hrsg.):Tagebuch des Lucas Rem aus den Jahren 1494-1541. Augsburg: Hartmann, 1861, S. 28.

[8] Ein formal vergleichbares Flugblatt, das in Straßburg 1606 erschien, zeigt an der Brust und am Kopf zusammengewachsene, siamesische Zwillinge, die eine Frau eines Schreiners geboren habe, vgl. Ewinkel, Irene: De monstris. Deutung und Funktion von Wundergeburten auf Flugblättern im Deutschland des 16. Jahrhunderts. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1995, S. 338.

4. Ways of adoption

The Augsburger patrician, art merchant and art collector Philipp Hainhofer (1578-1647), knew about the leaflet.[9] He connects it with a different person who he met during a trip to Stettin in 1617. This 37-year old ill person was able to say about himself, just as Wolffgang Gschaidter, "Hominem non habeo".[10] This Latin motto ("I do not have anyone to help me") refers to the part in the Bible John 5 in which the healing of an ill person at the lake Betesda, where many "ill, blind, paralyzed, haggard people" came to. When Jesus saw this person lying there and realized that he had already been lying there for a long time, he says to him: Do you want to get well? The sick person answered: Lord, I don't have anyone to bring me here to the lake if the water moves; but when I get here, a different person goes into the water before me. Jesus says to him: Stand up, take your bed and go over there! And the sick person immediately was healthy, took his bed and walked to the lake." (John 5, 5-9). Later, in 1628, Hainhofer also visited the art chamber of Ferdinand II. This can be seen as evidence for the relation that is becoming clear today between the leaflet and the art chamber. Therewith the difference between "citizen-orientated" and "aristocratic" ways of dealing with media between cheap copper engravings and elegant paintings is put into perspective. This new meaning of mass arts also puts a light on today's donation campaigns that advertise in an artistically ambitioned way (see e.g. in Germany "Aktion Mensch", in Switzerland "Pro Infirmis", in Austria "Licht ins Dunkel"). In one part of his Innsbruck travel report Hainhofer writes: "Here in Innsbruck they showed me the house of an artist who has been lying here so ill for eighteen years, I always send him alms from Augsburg."[11] Hainhofer traded with art cupboards and therefore it could have been likely that he had contact with an "artistic carpenter" like as Gschaidter and his family, but the years are not identical. One thing that has to be emphasised though, is that Hainhofer had sent donations from Augsburg to Innsbruck. Did he do this because of the motive of the leaflet?

Further sources show that such leaflets from the 16th and 17th Century were recorded and looked at or distributed. There are diaries or chronicles in which subsequent subscriptions can be found.[12] The tendency of their orientation becomes clear through the large contemporary collection of the priest Johann Jakob Wick (1522-1588) from Zurich in which numerous leaflets of disabled persons, who are mentioned by their names (e.g. Gschaidter), show.[13] The leaflets emphasise that they inform in an authentic and truthful way. At the same time though, they are a prerogative of interpretation of what is going on or the person. They are a direct appeal towards the viewer and reader. It is about a generalization of the important situation of a person for others - for the anonymous audience which has to be informed: anger of God, religious conflicts of opinion, insufficient gracious, sinfulness, missing humility and the upcoming apocalypse are shown in the leaflet of the persons with disabilities. However, the medial utilization of leaflets cannot be seen in a one-dimensional staging of the religious portentousness for a scientific examination, but is part of "three different complexes and interpretations and therefore connected emotions - dread, pleasure and reluctance".[14]

Thanks to the medical historian Eugen Holländer from Berlin, at the beginning of the 20th century the leaflet appears in the first, legendary collection and illustration of leaflets of the 15th until 18th century.[15] His book "Miracles, miraculous births and miraculous bodies" was published in 1921 and in the chapter "monstrosity as an exhibition object" the leaflet of Wolffgang Gschaidter is printed. Holländer writes:

"The leaflet, which shows the unhappy skeleton-like man is from the year1620. The Tyrolean leaflet illustrates this ill carpenter as "symbol and landmark" of the city and invites the reader to visit the church." (Holländer 1921, 142)

Holländer puts the leaflets into order according to the cultural and not medical history.

The 800th Anniversary catalogue of Innsbruck "Baroque in Innsbruck", in 1980, published the leaflet of Wolffgang Gschaidter in the chapter "Diseases and Medicine".[16] The church Dreiheiligen, which was built in 1612/13, and the disease hospital, in which Gschaidter probably was taken care of, are also mentioned. The portrait of Gschaidter is displayed next to the plague doctor Dr. Paul Weinhart der Ältere from Innsbruck (1570-1648) in the catalogue. In reference to the documents in the catalogue Wolffgang Harms writes:

"The leaflet is an early certificate of journalism in Innsbruck and is one of the first ever illustrated leaflets in Tirol. The printer Daniel Paur is the third owner of the first printing company in Innsbruck, founded in 1554. Before the foundation, newspapers and related publications in Innsbruck were obtained from Augsburg. Before 1620 the copper engravers in Innsbruck only worked at the courtyard, such as e.g. Dominicus Custos from Antwerpen (in Innsbruck between 1582 and 1593) and Johannes Schmischek (Schmischetzky) from Prag (around 1600/05). Andreas Spängler learned copper engraving from Johannes Schmischek, as the first Tyrolean engraver Spängler worked in different areas in Innsbruck.[17]"

During the 16th and 17th Century leaflets were mainly sold on vendor's trays. The price of a leaflet was between two and four kreutzer, which was the equivalent of the hourly payment of a bricklayer.[18] The printing or distribution of leaflets was sometimes even prohibited, e.g. the Council of Nürnberg prohibited the letter painter and book printer Stefan Hamer to print the flyers with a "freaky thing", probably a child with a disability. It is not clear whether one wanted to protect pregnant women from a so-called accident or whether one complained about aesthetic deficiencies.[19]

The art historian Adolf Reinle[20] from Zurich illustrated the carpenter Wolffgang Gschaidter in his book "The representative Portrait" in 1984 in the chapter "the autonomous portrait" at the end of the paragraph "Curiosa: Giants, gnomes, fools and other strange people". Reinle calls this a "Picture of a man with a spectacular illness causing pity" (Reinle 1984, S. 179) which however is illustrated in a "realistic way". He describes the Latin verses as a "poem of complaint" and the German text as a "report about the sudden illness" of Wolffgang Gschaidter.

The most recent and precise comments are by Wolffgang Harms.[21] In the principal part he writes:

"The image of a completely skeleton-like sick person reminds the beholder of the triviality of human life and begs for alms for the ill person. ... The church Dreiheiligen in Innsbruck was built in 1613, just a few years before the leaflet was published, this way a pledge of the city for the liberation from the plague in 1611/12 was redeemed. Therefore St. Rochus, Sebastian and Pirmin are known as the saviours of the plague. A closer relation between the church that Gschaidter is lying in front of and his illness is not visible. One can assume that the ill person was carried from the hospital to the church and that the unusual illness was the reason to put him in front of the church as a warning example for the public. The carpenter, who mysteriously fell ill, is demonstrated kind of "sensational" miraculous things from a different area of nature as reality. So afterwards, the moral the surprised beholder awaits can be taught through exegeses, comments and questions. In this sense the leaflet is reserved; the picture is a kind of mirror, it should give an insight into the endlessness of human life and be an appeal for repentance; the extraordinary position in nature allows a general understanding... The crooked and suffering ill person beneath the crucifix should turn the gaze on this world towards the hereafter. Moral-religious tasks of this leaflet can therefore be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, the outward appearance of the leaflet could be comparable with a showman leaflet: the image and text tempt one to be an immediate witness of this "sensation". It is unusual that a person becomes a kind of object of a leaflet; similar warnings are normally rather exemplified by monstrous phenomena of nature. While the local researches saw a person with gout, the modern medical diagnose reaches a different result. According to this diagnose, it is probably an injury of the high spinal marrow with a paraplegia, caused for example by an injury, bleeding or infectious process. Beneath this level he is completely paralyzed, while the innervations of the head area seem to be preserved."

Especially remarkable is that the philologist allows a medical diagnose and weighs this in a comparison (gout - paraplegia). However, he doesn't connect the diagnoses with the described state of the carpenter: how can Gschaidter's sudden head and tooth ache then be explained? Furthermore, the position of the beholder is not included in the interpretation, which would however be of great cultural-analytical importance. A diagnose of the gaze is connected to the history of civilization, it may be very important in the sense of medical history,[22] but if it dominates the existential circumstance of the representation, it goes beyond the personal manner of expression, experience and competence.

[9] cf. Boström, Hans-Olof: Philipp Heinhofer: Seine Kunstkammer und seine Kunstschränke. In: Grote, Andreas: Macrocosmos in Microcosmo. Opladen: Leske+Budrich, 1994, S. 555ff.

[10] Harms, Wolfgang: Die Sammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1985, S.467: Harms fährt fort: "ihm gegenüber solle dann Christus als Schmerzensmann, aus dessen Seite dann das Blut auf den Kranken hinabspringe, stehen und sagen Ecce Homo. An dieser Stelle fügt Hainhofer ein Exemplar dieses Blattes [gemeint ist das Flugblatt mit Wolffgang Gschaidter] ein." Da das Flugblatt erst 1620 gedruckt wurde, hat Hainhofer es nachträglich eingefügt

[11] Doering, Oscar: Des Augsburger Patriciers Philipp Hainhofer Reisen nach Innsbruck und Dresden. Wien: Graeser, 1901, S. 92

[12] cf. Schilling, Michael: Bildpublizistik der frühen Neuzeit. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1990, S. 456.

[13] cf. Mürner, Christian: Medien- und Kulturgeschichte behinderter Menschen. Weinheim: Beltz, 2003, S. 19ff.

[14] Daston, Lorraine; Park, Katherine: Wunder und die Ordnung der Natur. Berlin: Eichborn, 2002, S. 208.

[15] Holländer, Eugen: "Wunder, Wundergeburt und Wundergestalt". Stuttgart; Enke, 1921, S. 143.

[16] Barock in Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum Innsbruck, 1980, S. 50f.

[17] Harms, Wolfgang: Die Sammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1985, S. 467.

[18] Vgl. Schilling, Michal, Bildpublizistik der frühen Neuzeit. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1990, S. 40f.

[19] Harms, Wolfgang: Die Sammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. Tübinger: Niedermeyer, 1985, S. XIX

[20] Reinle, Adolf: Das stellvertretende Bildnis. Zürick: Artemis, 1984, S. 178f.

[21] Harms , Wolfgang: Die Sammlung der Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1985, S. 467f.

[22] Cf. Schilling, Michael: Flugblatt und Krise in der Frühen Neuzeit. In: Harms, Wolfgang; Messerli, Alfred (Hrsg.): Wahrnehmungsgeschichte und Wissensdiskurs im illustrierten Flugblatt der Frühen Neuzeit (1450-1700). Basel: Schwabe, 2002, S. 54.

5. Interpretations

Summarizing Interpretation of the leaflet of Wolffgang Gschaidter from 1620

To summarize, some aspects of a possible interpretation of the portrait should be pointed out. They can be related to today's forms of presentation of people with disabilities in mass-media and the criticism of this illustration:

  • Projective function: Appeal to think about oneself - especially about one's own death - when looking at the disabled man: Projective functionalization of people with disabilities, without the personal view of people with disabilities becoming clear in any kind of way

  • Mass-media distribution: Utilization of a mass media with pictures and texts to become effective over a wide-range and beyond the borders of social status

  • Dramatising staging: e.g. Argumentation with a separation of body and mind as a mass-media strategy to reinforce drama ('You see a sane mind in an insane body')

  • Donations ('alms') as individualising-disburdening operation strategy: Appeal to donate money to the disabled man; maybe an example for how the repelled indulgence is continued and functionalised in a new form

  • Institutional function: Institutional interests of the involved institutions hospital (contagion hospitals and old people's home) and church: Financing and public legitimating of institutes through donations

  • Political function: Utilization of the leaflet within a general counter-reformatory and political propaganda: counter-reformatory mission

  • Establishment of an everyday effective topos: Utilization and first attempt mass-media establishment of the topos 'poor cripple' as an abbreviation for this whole situation

Therefore this leaflet is probably a first document of donation campaigns, in the kind of structure as also known today. They have a meaningful position in the production of gazes on people with disabilities and are fiercely combated in their ideological function by the international independent living movement (cp. The conflict in the US about telethons[23], the conflict in Austria about 'Licht ins Dunkel', the partial solution of the conflict in Germany through the change of 'Aktion Sorgenkind' into 'Aktion Mensch'). The main conflict between self presentation and external presentation or the up until today unbroken power of the external presentation, can be exemplarily clarified on the basis of the demonstration of Wolffgang Gschaidter as 'Symbol of Innsbruck'.


Christian Mürner, Volker Schönwiese: Wolffgang Gschaidter - Symbol of Innsbruck

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Stand: 06.12.2011

[23] Cp. e.g. the criticism in film: Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back. Video by Sharon Snyder & David Mitchell, Ann Arbor, May 1995

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