Einstein's Sorriness, 2022

Oil on linen Canvas, 120 x 100 x 4 cm,
Unique work, Certificate of Authenticity Included

I am a painter, not a writer, but I always like to read good books, and preferably as many as possible, in between painting. From an early age, as a passionate reader of such American science fiction writers as Jack Vance, Isaac Asimov, Arthur c. Clarke, George Orwell – I became deeply impressed by that great physicist and Nobel laureate Albert Einstein, most likely a source of inspiration for the often overlooked profession of science fiction writers.

The beautiful worlds that some science fiction authors describe with passion; the spacecraft with which they transport their main characters to those sometimes beautiful, sometimes dangerous worlds at the speed of light are impressive; their books, those of Jack Vance at the forefront, were and still are read and reread in one go!

And then you have Albert Einstein with his special and general theory of relativity, who with his world-famous formula E=mc2 (probably not understood by everyone) threw the highest eyes. The speed of light is 300,000 km (299,792,458 meters) per second. The Nobel Prize winner was born. With pleasure I started reading his biographies and began to think of a painted portrait. But which portrait of the great gentleman? Not just any random portrait or even a well-known portrait. A photo, realistic enough to do justice to the work! A photo that cannot simply be replaced by any other photo, because what matters here is the effect, the expressive power of the face, the intrinsic power of the photo.

One day when I was talking about my problem with a good friend, he called me the next day and asked me to come over with a magazine that he said showed a beautiful photo of Einstein in later life. A photo in PHOTO, made by the great American, well-known photographer Philippe Halsman. And… that was it, that was the image of Albert Einstein that I wanted to paint on the canvas.

During the conversations that master photographer Philippe Halsman had with Albert Einstein, which the French magazine PHOTO published in October 2001, Halsman stated afterwards, I quote: “Plutôt que de rencontrer un grand scientifique, j’avais devant moi un homme qui en avait gros sur le coeur et sa voix résonnait d’une triste franchise. Ses cheveux long et sa figure magnifique lui donnaient un air leonin”. (1)

And PHOTO continues in its edition as follows; Bien qu’il (Einstein) eut averti Roosevelt des dangers de la fission de l’uranium, il avait appris comment on avait utilisé sa découverte et en souffrait. C’est ce regard de desolation que Philippe Halsman a capté”. (2) (Source : PHOTO Le Magazine de Reference depuis 1967, n°383, octobre 2001)

My good friend Frans Boenders, writer and art critic, gave me the book The Hidden Life of Einstein, written by the authors Roger Hartfield and Paul Carter. The other books - also painted on the canvas - My View On Life, written by Einstein himself in 1934, the biography Albert Einstein, by Banesh Hoffmann and Einstein and Aquinas… a Rapprochement, by John F. Kiley, I found them through a long search on the Internet and I purchased them. The Red Box in the painting with the very tiny text “Be aware… do not open this box” is a reference to Pandora's box.

The painting is my ode to a great and exceptionally gifted man!
Guy De Jaegher
(1) “Instead of meeting a great scientist, I had before me a very unhappy man, and his voice echoed with a sad frankness. His long hair and magnificent face gave him a lion-like appearance.”
Philippe Halsman

(2) “Although he (Einstein) had warned Roosevelt of the dangers of uranium fission, he had learned how his discovery had been used and suffered as a result. It is this sad look of desolation that Philippe Halsman captured with Einstein.”
PHOTO magazine