Description & Technical information

This elegant and refined pastel study by Menzel has been dated to c.1850 by Marie Ursula Riemann-Reyher, but remains unrelated to any finished work by the artist. As Susanne van Falkenhausen has pointed out, ‘Menzel used pastels for sketches or studies during the 1840s and 1850s, but mostly restricted himself to a limited range of colours. Later, the carpenter’s pencil replaced pastels for such work.’ More often than not, the artist preferred to use a brown-tinted paper for his pastel drawings. As another Menzel scholar has further noted, ‘Lightness of touch, enhanced with a degree of anecdotal elegance, is characteristic of the pastels of the 1840s to 1850s. After that, economy of method and form tended to disappear.’

The first recorded owner of this pastel sketch was the German art historian, curator and artist Guido Josef Kern (1878-1953), who was one of the authors of the monumental illustrated catalogue of Menzel’s paintings, watercolours, gouaches and pastels, published in 1905. In 1925 Kern mounted an exhibition of fifty Menzel drawings at the Akademie in Berlin.

Kern’s extensive inscription on the old backing board reads: ‘This hand study belongs to the group of coloured studies of male and female hands, which are reproduced in the Menzel-Catalogue (Bruckmann Munich 1905) edited by Hugo von Tschudi, Schwedeler-Meyer and myself. At the time of publication of the work, the present study was not yet known. This is one of the best of this type. The study was produced, in my opinion, in the period 1860-1870. (Written down on request). Professor G. J. Kern. Berlin, May 10, 1928.’

The present sheet later belonged to the Prussian civil servant and arnt collector Alexander Prentzel (1875-1955).

Date:  1850
Period:  1850-1900, 19th century
Origin:  Germany
Medium: Pastel, Charcoal o brown paper
Signature: Inscribed (by Kern) Dieses Handstudie gehört zur Gruppe des farbigen / Studien nach männlichen und weiblichen Händen / die en dem von Hugo von Tschudi, Schwedeler-Meyer / und mir herausgegebenes Menzel – Werk (Bruckmann / München 1905) abgebildet sind. Beim Erscheinen des / Werkes war die vorliegende Studie nochnichtbekannt. / Sie ist einer der besten dieser Gattung. Enstanden ist / die Studie nach meiner Ansicht sie das Zeit von 1860-1870. / (Auf Wunsch niedergeschreiben). Profes. G. J. Kern / Berlin, d. 10. Mai 1928 on the old backing board.

Dimensions: 17.6 x 24.3 cm (6⁷/₈ x 9⁵/₈ inches)
Provenance: Guido Josef Kern, Berlin, by 1928
His wife, Dr. Franziska Kern, Berlin, in 1929
Alexander Prentzel, Berlin
His anonymous sale (‘Die Sammlung Geheimrat P., Berlin. Deutsche Meister des 19. Jahrhunderts’), Berlin, Hans W. Lange, 8 May 1942, lot 90 (sold for 3,000 Reichsmarks)
Private collection, North Rhine-Westphalia
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Villa Grisebach, 26 May 2006, lot 3
Private collection.

Exhibitions: Berlin, Verein Berliner Künstler, Hundert Jahre Berliner Kunst, 1929, no.995; Munich, Galerie Caspari,Adolph von Menzel 1815-1905: Ölgemälde, Gouachen, Pastelle, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, 1932, no.26.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints