Description & Technical information

A page from a sketchbook, this is one of a group of late drawings by Adolph Menzel of, to quote one scholar,  ‘men and women viewed at close range and focussing mainly on their heads and upper bodies…Technically, the drawings are extremely fine and mark a final phase…in Menzel’s relation to his primary medium. All were executed in carpenter pencil and stump, in a wide range of values from the deepest, grainiest black – the lead being particularly soft – through the subtlest and softest grays, made by rubbing with stump or fingers, to the white of the paper.’ Many of these drawings depict their subjects from an odd or unexpected angle; either from above or below or, as in the present sheet, from behind.

The present sheet was once part of the exceptional collection of drawings by Menzel assembled by the Viennese industrialist Moritz Edler von Kuffner (1854-1939). In May 1938 thirteen Menzel drawings from the Kuffner collection were requested by the Albertina in Vienna, which sought to prevent their export by the family. (A further group of drawings by Rudolf von Alt from the same collection were also appropriated by the State, intended for the planned Führermuseum in Linz.) In July of the same year, however, twelve of the thirteen Menzel drawings were returned to the family by the Albertina. Shortly thereafter the Kuffner family emigrated to Zurich, where Moritz died the following year. 

Date:  1889
Period:  1850-1900, 19th century
Origin:  Germany
Medium: Carpenter’s pencil, With stumping
Signature: Signed with initials and dated A.M./ 89 at the lower right.

Dimensions: 20.6 x 12.8 cm (8¹/₈ x 5 inches)
Provenance: Moritz Edler von Kuffner, Vienna
His son, Stephan von Kuffner
Thence by descent to Vera von Kuffner Eberstadt, New York
Her posthumous sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 8 July 2015, lot 161
Private collection.

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints