Study of a Young Woman (Portrait of Clara Strauss)
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Study of a Young Woman (Portrait of Clara Strauss)

Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

Adolph Menzel rarely accepted portrait commissions, and in general only produced portraits of members of his family, close friends and associates. As he wrote in a letter of 1850, when he was thirty-five years old, ‘It is not my job to do portraits of all and sundry to suit the public taste or to ape fashion.’ Furthermore, as one modern scholar has pointed out, ‘For Menzel…the portrait with its inevitable focus on the face or indeed the social mask was at best a secondary genre. Not that his oeuvre is devoid of superb portraits…the best of which…are of men and women who mattered to him personally.’ The Menzel scholar Marie-Ursula Riemann-Reyher has noted that ‘Even though Menzel never wanted to be a portraitist, and his portraits were primarily created for special occasions or as favors, he succeeded brilliantly in this area. In addition to his artistic ability, his watercolors, pastels, and pencil drawings attest to his grasp of the psychological aspects of portrait painting, which were bolstered by his extraordinary empathy and his knowledge of human nature.’

The present sheet is previously unpublished and has never been exhibited. Depicted here at the age of eighteen, the sitter, Clara Sara Strauss (1873-1943), was born in Vienna to Dr. Maximilian Strauss and Hermine Strauss (née Russ). She married Feldmarschlleutnant Hugo Carl Victor Daler (1859-1922), with whom she had two daughters. Clara Strauss Daler died at Auschwitz in 1943. This portrait drawing of her by Menzel, drawn on the 1st of February 1890, was later inherited by her daughter Christel Overgaard.

Provenance: The sitter, Clara Strauss Daler
By descent to her daughter, Christel Overgaard, Denmark
Thence by descent
Anonymous sale, Veilje, Bruun Rasmussen, 24 September 2002, lot 128 Anonymous sale, Copenhagen, Bruun Rasmussen, 10 September 2004, lot 2044 
Galerie Arnoldi-Livie, Munich
Private collection, The Netherlands.

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