Signor Formica

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Signor Formica is a novella by ETA Hoffmann , which appeared in the seventh section of the fourth volume of the collection Die Serapionsbrüder in 1821 by G. Reimer in Berlin. The writing of the nonsense presented in the style of the Commedia dell'arte by Carlo Gozzi was finished at the end of March 1819. In autumn of the same year, the homage to Boccaccio had already been published in advance in a paperback for social enjoyment for the year 1820 by Johann Friedrich Gleditsch in Leipzig.


Konrad Schwenck wrote after the publication of the Roman-Florentine painter's story: " Salvator Rosa ... helps the young painter Antonio, the old dude Pasquale Capuzzi, who wants to marry his beautiful niece Marianna himself, to cheat him."


The famous painter Salvator Rosa comes to Rome and is attacked by a dangerous disease. What he encounters in this illness.

Coming from Naples, Salvator found accommodation with the impoverished widow Signora Caterina on Bergognona Street. Now the well-known painter is lying down with a high fever. The famous Doctor, Signor Splendiano Accoramboni, is summoned. This painting lover wears something like the obelisk from St. Peter's Square on his head and is therefore also called the Pyramid Doctor. Since there is no money in the house, Signora Caterina promises the pyramid doctor a non-existent painting of the patient as a fee. Because the doctor cures like a quack, the painter separates from him and makes use of the proven services of a healing priest. The latter calls the young surgeon and barber Antonio Scacciati. This turns out to be an admirer of the painter.

Antonio Scacciati receives high honors through Salvator Rosa's mediation. He discovers the cause of his continuing grief in the Salvator, who comforts him and promises to help.

The surgeon wants to quit his job and dedicate himself entirely to painting. He was a student of Annibal and Reni . He had been warned against imitation by the thoughtful Preti . Salvator lets himself be led into Antonio's workshop and there recognizes the talent of the much younger man. Antonio had already surpassed the members of the Academy San Luca , as were there, Tiarini , Gessi , Sementa and Lanfranco . But Salvator warns of the painters' intrigues among themselves; names Domenichino as one of the victims. Disapproving villains - like Belisario and Ribera - would have cheated Domenichino of the fruits of his labor. When Antonio shows the portrait of a Magdalena as his best work, Salvator sees through his colleague. He is in love with his model. Salvator takes the work of art and gives the young artist well-deserved fame by presenting it to the academics of San Luca as the work of a young painter who died young. Even the otherwise critical knight Josepin is full of praise. The whole of Rome makes a pilgrimage to the wonderful painting. Even when Salvator reveals the surgeon to be the creator of the work of art, the academics cannot avoid: Antonio becomes a member of the academy. The honorable one is not happy. How much he would like his Magdalena model, the 16-year-old orphan Marianna, to be his wife. But her uncle, the very wealthy Signor Pasquale Capuzzi di Senigaglia , a dirty, skinny curmudgeon and outspoken dude, won't give her up. The old man, who considers himself one of the most important opera composers and singers in Italy, would like to marry the young girl himself. Under no circumstances will he give his treasure to a surgeon who has run along, the son of a poor beard scratcher. And anyway; Signor Capuzzi is very angry. After all, this beard-cleaner has counterfeited his Marianna that the portrait of the girl was insulted by all of Rome with greedy, lustful looks.

Signor Pasquale Capuzzi appears in Salvator Rosa's apartment. What happens there. Cunning prank that Rosa and Scacciati carry out and its consequences.

Old Capuzzi won't tolerate any other man near Marianna. So the dwarf Pitichinaccio has to do maid services for Marianna in women's clothes. In return, Capuzzi gives the little one a gift and carries it home in the evening.

Capuzzi seeks Salvator because he wants to sell him a decrepit spinet . It comes to the deal. However, Salvator has to listen to the “most gruesome recitatives” and “infernal arias” from Francesco Cavalli's last opera for almost two hours .

The following night, Salvator and Antonio let the old Capuzzi beat up by a "drunk guy" when he was carrying Pitichinaccio home and they were soon there to help. The surgeon Antonio takes care of Capuzzi in Salvator's apartment. Later, when Salvator has the patient carried home, Marianna and Antonio understand each other in a few glances. Salvator is surprised by Marianna's beauty. He absolutely wants to snatch it from Capuzzi.

New attack carried out by Salvator Rosa and Antonio Scacciati against Signor Pasquale Capuzzi and against his company, and what happens next.

The beating had no consequences. Capuzzi didn't break anything and “didn't dislocate a bone”. Marianna, however, feigns sympathy and concern. Then the beautiful woman has a wish for the old man. Immediately she wants to visit Nicolo Musso's “little Budentheater” in front of the Porta del Popolo to experience the antics of Signor Formica. When Salvator and Antonio learn of their intended theater visit, they see an opportunity. On the way home they want to snatch the beautiful Marianne from the “vile Capuzzi”. There is a fight. Capuzzi keeps his treasure. Antonio, who was stabbed in a street fight at night, now wants to break into Capuzzi's house and kidnap his Marianna. Salvator advises against and persuades Antonio to do the next trick. Antonio is supposed to kidnap Marianna during a performance in the theater in front of the Porta del Popolo.

New accident involving Signor Pasquale Capuzzi. Antonio Scacciati happily carried out an attack in the theater of Nicolo Musso and escaped to Florence.

Nicolo Musso is in cahoots with Salvator. The theater director goes to Capuzzi and suggests the vain old composer go to his house. Signor Formica will sing some of his arias. Capuzzi cannot resist.

During the theater performance, Signor Formica holds up a mirror to Capuzzi. The false capuzzi on stage promises that he will give his dear niece Marianna to the good young Antonio Scacciati as his wife. That's too much for the real Capuzzi among the spectators. The old man jumps onto the stage and steps forward with his sword drawn. Capuzzi is arrested by an officer of the papal guard. Antonio and Marianna manage to escape to Florence.

Salvator Rosa leaves Rome and goes to Florence. The conclusion of the story.

What's next Pitichinaccio suffocates on an almond kernel. The pyramid doctor accidentally kills himself by writing a spelling mistake on a prescription for his own discomfort. Salvator goes to the Accademia dei Percossi. There in Florence he met Evangelista Toricelli , Valerio Chimentelli, Battista Ricciardi, Andrea Cavalcanti, Pietro Salvati, Filippo Apolloni, Volumnio Bandelli and Francesco Rovai. Both Marianna and Salvator want to reconcile with Capuzzi. This succeeds during another theatrical performance; this time privately in the midst of the aforementioned artists and scholars in Florence.

Capuzzi had come with an arrest warrant for Antonio, the kidnapper of his beloved niece. The old man gladly accepted the honorable invitation from the Accademia dei Percossi. The performance - again a Capuzzi appears upstairs and someone sits down in the audience - begins with a nuisance for Capuzzi. Enter the hated Signor Formica. Finally, the academics appease the “excellent artist”. At the end of the novella, Signor Formica turns out to be Salvator Rosa.

The happy ending: Capuzzi discreetly renounces Marianna. He spends the rest of his days with Antonio and Marianna. The old man hands over her parental inheritance to the wife as the bride's treasure .


  • In 1820, the reviewer in the Hermes criticized the "bright colors".
  • ETA Hoffmann contrasts the Roman hostility towards art with the “Tuscan artist utopia” of Florence.
  • The author warns against marriage and meets the reader with a Mediterranean flair.
  • Kaiser goes into autobiographical references and praises “imagery” and “ situational comedy ”. Kaiser names works by Köhn (1966), Helmut Feldmann (Cologne 1971) and Gerd Hemmerich (1982). Segebrecht also mentions Beate Dreike (1990) and Matteo Galli (Heidelberg 2002).
  • The Doctor Splendiano Accoramboni is one of ETA Hoffmann's medical caricatures.
  • Details can be found at Segebrecht. The author used the 4th volume of Jagemann's magazine of Italian literature and arts (1780–1785) and d'Argenville's life of famous painters (Leipzig 1767). ETA Hoffmann portrays the theater as a “reformatory”. What is meant is the “game of life” and the “game in the theater”, twice pre-exercised using the figure of Capuzzi.

See also

  • 1881 Pitichinaccio appears in Hoffmann's tales .
  • 1943 premiere of the cheerful opera of the same name by Hans Grimm in Nuremberg.
  • 1981 Caspar Walter Rauh illustrates a book edition of the story that appears in Bayreuth.


The first edition in the Serapion Brothers

  • Signor Formica. A novella. In: The Serapion Brothers. Collected stories and fairy tales. Published by ETA Hoffmann. Fourth volume. Berlin 1821. Printed and published by G. Reimer. 587 pages.

Used edition

  • ETA Hoffmann: Signor Formica. A novella. P. 922-1011 in: Wulf Segebrecht (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann: The Serapions Brothers. German classic publisher in paperback. Vol. 28. Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-618-68028-4 (corresponds to: Vol. 4 in: Wulf Segebrecht (Ed.): ETA Hoffmann: Complete Works in Seven Volumes , Frankfurt am Main 2001).

Secondary literature

  • Peter von Matt : The eyes of the machines. ETA Hoffmann's theory of imagination as a principle of his storytelling . Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 1971, ISBN 3-484-18018-8 .
  • Rüdiger Safranski : ETA Hoffmann. The life of a skeptical fantasist. 2nd Edition. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2001 (1st edition 1984), ISBN 3-596-14301-2 .
  • Gerhard R. Kaiser: ETA Hoffmann. Metzler, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-476-10243-2 . (Metzler Collection; 243; Realities on literature.)
  • Helmut de Boor , Richard Newald: History of German literature from the beginnings to the present. Volume 7: Gerhard Schulz : The German literature between the French Revolution and the Restoration. Part 2: The Age of Napoleonic Wars and Restoration. 1806-1830. Beck, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-406-09399-X .


  1. The characters Antonio, Pasquale Capuzzi and Marianna are invented by the author.
  2. KW Kolbe recorded the moment in which the real Capuzzi jumped up in the audience in a drawing that can be found in the first edition. A photocopy of the copperplate engraving by F. Rosmäsler based on this template can be seen in the edition used after p. 1199 in Fig. 12.

Individual evidence

  1. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221, 4. Zvo and p. 1682 above
  2. Segebrecht, p. 1556, 3rd Zvu
  3. Segebrecht, p. 1559, 4th Zvu
  4. Segebrecht, p. 1559, 10th Zvu
  5. Segebrecht, p. 1552, 4th Zvu
  6. Schwenck, quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1558, 8th Zvu
  7. ^ Italian Alessandro Tiarini
  8. Segebrecht, p. 1568, first entry
  9. Konrad Schwenck, quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1559, 4. Zvo
  10. ^ Italian Salvator Rosa
  11. Review in “Hermes. Yearbook of Literature 1820 ”, quoted in Segebrecht, p. 1557, 5th Zvu
  12. by Matt, p. 150, 7th Zvu
  13. Safranski, p. 317, 5th Zvu
  14. Safranski, p. 399, 7. Zvo
  15. Kaiser, p. 79 above
  16. ^ Kaiser, p. 86 above
  17. Segebrecht, p. 1676, under "Signor Formica"
  18. Schulz, p. 442, 21. Zvo
  19. Segebrecht, pp. 1552–1581.
  20. Segebrecht, p. 1553, 1. Zvu
  21. Segebrecht, p. 1560, 8. Zvo
  22. Segebrecht, p. 1561, 4th Zvu
  23. Segebrecht in the edition used, p. 1221 above.

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