(Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)
The Head of a Bearded Man
Signed and dated Ad. Menzel 28 Nov. / 61 at the upper right.
434 x 314 mm. (17 1/8 x 12 3/8 in.)
This powerful gouache study was among the works retained by the artist’s sister, Emilie Krigar-Menzel, when she sold the bulk of the contents of her brother’s studio to the Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 1906. It later belonged to the German-Jewish industrialist and art collector, Adolf Bensinger (1866-1939) of Mannheim, whose collection was mainly formed in the 1910s and 1920s. Apart from the present sheet and a pencil drawing by Menzel, Bensinger owned works by Rosa Bonheur, Alexandre Calame, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Honoré Daumier, Ferdinand Hodler, Wilhelm von Kaulbach, Max Liebermann, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Giovanni Segantini, Hans Thoma and Vincent Van Gogh. The collection was sold at auction in 1940, the year after Bensinger’s death, and the present sheet was one of six lots bought back at the sale, for a total of 45,600 Reichsmarks, on behalf of two of the collector’s intended heirs, his young grandnieces Irmgard and Gabriele Conzen. In 1942, however, the assets of the Conzen family were given to the Nazi High Command in exchange for exit visas to Switzerland, where the family settled that year, and it was not until 1962 that title to the property was eventually returned to the Conzen heirs.
By descent to the artist’s sister, Emilie Krigar-Menzel, Berlin
Adolf Bensinger, Mannheim
By bequest to four of his great-nieces and nephews
Bensinger sale (‘Nachlass-Verstiegerung der Gemäldesammlung sowie Einrichtung Kommerzienrat Adolf Israel Bensinger’), Mannheim, Fritz Nagel at Werderplatz 12, 22 February 1940, lot 49 (‘Kopf eines bärtigen Mannes nach rechts gewendet. Oel, 43 x 31 cm, bez. Ad. Menzel 28 Nov.61.’, estimated at 10,000 Reichsmarks)
One of six lots bought at the sale by the lawyer Hans Frölich on behalf of Bensinger’s grandnieces, Irmgard and Gabriele Conzen, Berlin-Schlachtensee
Given with the rest of the Conzen family’s assets to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht in 1942 in exchange for exit visas to Switzerland
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 9 October 1997, lot 51 (bt. Krugier)
Jan Krugier and Marie-Anne Poniatowski, Geneva.