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Adolf von Menzel
STUDIES OF HEAD OF WOMEN

1870-80

$15,800Asking Price

About

LOWER MIDDLE: " AD. M." PROVENANCE PRIVATE COLLECTION, FRANKFURT AM MAIN During his long life, which spanned almost the entire nineteenth century and was spent mostly in Berlin, Adolph Menzel produced an exceptionally varied body of work marked by a realism that is both democratic in its approach and touched with brilliance in the complexity of the artist’s pictorial ideas. Menzel always gave pride of place to accuracy in his representation of historical subjects and sought to render contemporary images and scenes of everyday life with the utmost objectivity. The various phenomena presented by reality served as a constant wellspring for his artistic work, whose basis lay in observation. This is borne out by his principle of drawing everything, which accounts for the immense number of sketches that have come down to us. There are countless anecdotes that clearly convey how in any situation he encountered, Menzel would pull out one of the sketchbooks that he carried with him at all times, stop whatever he was doing – regardless of whether he found himself out in the street, away on a journey, at a formal dinner party, or in the midst of a conversation – and use his carpenter’s pencil to sketch something interesting that he saw and capture a slice of reality, in the process producing an aide-memoire that fed into his rich pool of motifs. The majority of these drawings are of seemingly random subjects taken from everyday life, and include heads, figures, animals, tools, and drapery. These not only provided a wealth of preparatory sketches for subsequent paintings, but attest rather to the simple pleasure Menzel took in applying his draughtsman’s eye to the world around him. This particular drawing, which probably dates from the period from the 1870s until the end of the 1880s, demonstrates what an unrivalled social commentator Menzel was. The heads of an older and a younger woman that we see here and the accompanying detail of a hand and face provide a unique snapshot of the figures he portrays –their tremendous psychological depth and expressiveness is achieved with just a few lines. These particularly empathic and profound studies are made all the more intriguing by the fact that Menzel is said to have been a positive recluse and was viewed as exceptionally unsociable. The drawings on this sheet are typical of Menzel’s work and are in all probability a study for the two ladies in the oil painting Nach Schluss des Hoffestes (After the Court Festival), which dates from the year 1889. Besides his interpretations of nature and reality, Menzel also gives sublime expression in the drawings of these later years to the most delicate strains and vibrancies of subtle ambient attractions and intimate confessions. The women in our sketch display just that subtlety of mood to be found in a fleeting moment – while the young girl casts a furtive and somewhat timid glance in the direction of something to which we are not privy, her older counterpart with her challenging look and frank expression is depicted almost as a caricature. These drawings, which Menzel probably executed purely for himself, provide the clearest expression of his artistic genius.

Details

  • Creator
    Adolf von Menzel (1815-1905, German)
  • Creation Year
    1870-80
  • Dimensions
    Height: 5.52 in. (14 cm)Width: 10.24 in. (26 cm)
  • Period
  • Condition
    Very good.
  • Gallery Location
    Frankfurt, DE
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: G13071120284

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