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excerpts from medical reports

November, 1899
“About two months ago, the patient had to be isolated again because of violent behaviour towards another patient. In the cell, he soon appeared to calm down, but one morning he destroyed a commode chair and used the remains to break down the cell door. In the corridor, he completely smashed a crosswindow including all the panes. His face was pale and he was sweating from agitation. Nevertheless, no attempts at escape, although it would have been easily possible. Since then, patient has been kept in cell. Pat. spends his time drawing.”


October 19, 1902
“Spent the entire summer diligently drawing, using up his pencil every week. His drawings are quite imbecilic, a chaotic jumble of notes, words, figures. He gives the individual sheets fanciful names such as String of Trumpets, Underchasm, etc.”


September 22, 1906
“Since a couple of weeks the patient has been very busy sawing and chopping wood, way over a 100 split logs. Instead he draws less; he still often easily strikes others who make a spectacle of themselves, are not quiet or likewise. He leaves quiet patients alone. He considers himself the worst case in the Waldau: there is no question of him leaving. That is, he fears being let out.”


December 4, 1916
“Always in his cell composing march music and drawing portraits. The latter sell incredibly well, since they are often of real artistic value. They are sold at 3 Fr. a piece. The money goes to the head-attendant who buys new material. Unsold portraits end up in the collection.”


July 5, 1919
“If he has no paper left, he is miserable; mopes around in the assembly room, moaning over the sad state of affairs when not even paper is to be had;he stalks through the whole house, knocks on every possible door, begging for paper. If somebody makes a remark about the waste of paper, he can become very irritated: he is accomplishing a great work, something of great importance and value, etc. The musical notes he sets down on paper record tunes he would try out for hours by humming down trumpets made out of rolled papersheets. This reminds one of country brass-band music, and it possesses a marked rhythm.”


November 3, 1921
“The patient painted the entire cell, it looks quite nice. Unfortunately he stuck pictures out of illustrated magazines in between his drawings, as well as postcards, he prefers it that way. Would like to order a carpet for his cell, of his own design. Told me he had enough money, that we should order one in Constantinople without fail.”


February 2, 1922
“His art has gone to his head, he won’t accept advice anymore… Made a couple of orders, bought a few kilos of figs from the Italian, as well as ordering paper without asking permission, not caring how much it cost, says he has enough money, that it was nobody´s business. Draws a lot. At the moment he draws for the museum, intends to have his things printed in several copies, each copy to be sold at the price of 600 Fr.; furthermore, he expects us to see to it that his work is also spread abroad, outside of Switzerland.”


November 16, 1927
“The patient worked hard in the fields during summer. Draws a lot, but his present pictures are not that nice, since he has outlines done by Böschenstein or sticks magazine pictures on, only filling out the leftover spaces himself. He asks 15–20 Fr. for each painting, getting angry if anyone thinks that too expensive. He then starts to praise himself and explains how hard he works, in the sweat of his brow, to earn money as an artist.”


September 6, 1930
“Haggard and pale, gathering his last strength, the patient sits at the table and writes. He insists impatiently that he must finish his Funeral March. Believes that anybody who has any notion of music will be able to play the March, which must be printed, yielding a few 100,000 Fr.”

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