The symbolism underlying C Sharp Minor Quartet is explained by Norman in a letter he wrote to John Hetherington:
The C Sharp Minor Quartet was Beethoven’s last work. It is a cry to the Gods for release. Resignation to the stress of life had failed Beethoven. He had had enough of it. I have put that clearly enough into the figures of the three women.
The rest of the image shows Desperation, exhausted emotion and physical collapse, with the stars from a dark earth merging in the flowers of Olympus, and release from Earth in the figures symbolising light and happiness.
I can define the thought behind the C Sharp Minor etching in a sentence. But I was two months needling that etching, proving it and re grounding it half a dozen times to try and convey the infernal difficulty of space in darkness …
Rose posed for the prone figure on the lower left and both she and Norman regarding C Sharp Minor Quartet as one of the most beautiful of all the etchings. Norman etched C Sharp Minor Quartet at the height of his interest in Beethoven and it is no coincidence that it was published in Beethoven’s centenary year. Rose described the printing process: It was one of the most difficult plates I had to print because of the black figure against a black background, which had to be wiped of all surplus ink to keep it luminous.
An alternative spelling for ‘Quartet’ is ‘Quartette’ and Norman and Rose used both spellings when titling the edition.
Copyright © NORMAN LINDSAY