Garden Room

Johann Caspar Goethe was in close contact with the Darmstadt court painter Johann Conrad Seekatz <1719-1768>. His household account book shows that he purchased 17 paintings by the artist.

The paintings of the twelve months were made for the ‘Lieutenant Genaaeral’ Thoranc. The paintings all have a similar structure: Against a light-coloured background there are three scenes surrounded by rocaille frames from the workshop of Johann Andreas Benjamin Nothnagel. Added to the rocailles – shell-shaped ornaments – are vines and objects that vary for each month. Each of the largest scenes are in the middle, the upper and lower scenes are smaller and painted tonally in grey-blue. The upper scenes refer to the signs of the zodiac. All the representations, with often child-like figures, show activities out of doors in keeping with the respective season: for January (Aquarius), ice skating and the cutting of willow twigs. February (Pisces) shows two Savoyard boys presenting their groundhog, and a carnival scene. March (Aries) is characterized by a break during tree pruning and a sower. April (Taurus) shows a gallant scene with a boy and girl in a park and a gardener watering flowers. In May (Gemini) there is a party in a rowboat and a rest in the countryside. June (Cancer) shows two girls teasing a shepherd who has dozed off, and sheepshearing. July (Leo) features bathing boys and haymaking. For August (Virgo) there is a rest during the harvesting of grain and the grain harvest itself. September (Libra) similarly shows a rest during the apple harvest and the harvesting of fruit. For October (Scorpio) there is the pressing of grapes and the grape harvest. November (Sagittarius) shows a hunting scene and boys with hunting dogs. In December (Capricorn) children walk on the ice and a pig is butchered.

It is striking that April differs noticeably from the other eleven images: It shows the viewer an elegant scene in a palace park. This has led to the supposition that the painter may have depicted Johann Wolfgang and Cornelia Goethe in this scene. The heads, however, are so general that they cannot be considered portraits.