Description & Technical information

This spirited sketch remains unrelated to any finished work by Menzel, and is likely to have been drawn for its own sake. As Cara Denison has described the drawing, ‘In this brilliant, nearly photographic work, Menzel twice drew the upraised arm of a woman holding a goblet: once in a full study of her arm and shoulder and once simply from the wrist to the hand holding the goblet.’

The present sheet may be tentatively associated with a small sketch by Menzel of two women, one of whom appears to be holding a glass in a similar manner, which recently appeared at auction in Germany. Another study of an upraised hand holding a glass, seen from below, appears as part of a sheet of studies of a bearded man, dated 1890, in the collection of the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts.

As the Menzel scholar Marie Ursula Riemann-Reyher has noted, ‘The capturing of detail by an observant eye and the committing to paper of everything seen…reflected a kind of ever-restless curiosity…By comparison with the few late works in colour, the pencil drawings occupy an increasingly important place in [Menzel’s] artistic creativity. The graphite pencil becomes the single-most important tool. Together with the small sketchbooks that he could slip into his pocket – he always carried at least one – Menzel always carried pencils with him on the long trips he took until his last summer in 1904. It was in these sketchbooks that he collected his observations. His focus was on light and shade, and on perspective; two aspects that could best be studied with the possibilities offered by work in pencil. On the tiny pages of these sketchbooks, things that drew the artist’s glance are captured with calm but intense observation.’

Date:  1890
Period:  1850-1900, 19th century
Origin:  China
Medium: Carpenter’s pencil, With stumping
Signature: Signed with initials and dated A. M. / 90 at the lower right.

Dimensions: 12.7 x 20.6 cm (5 x 8¹/₈ inches)
Provenance: Anonymous sale, Berlin, Galerie Bassenge, 2 December 1995, lot 5862
Wolfgang Ratjen, Munich
David Lachenmann, Munich
Katrin Bellinger, Munich
Flavia Ormond Fine Arts Ltd., London, in 1999
Charles Ryskamp, New York
Private collection, since 2008.

Literature: William M. Griswold et al., The World Observed: Five Centuries of Drawings from the Collection of Charles Ryskamp, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2001, p.115, no.103 (entry by Cara Denison).

Exhibitions: New York, Flavia Ormond Fine Arts at Adelson Galleries, Old Master Drawings, 1999, no.22; New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, The World Observed: Five Centuries of Drawings from the Collection of Charles Ryskamp, 2001, no.103.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints