(Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)
A Bearded Man Looking Down to the Left
Signed with initials and dated A.M. / 91 at the lower left.
206 x 130 mm. (8 1/8 x 5 1/8 in.)
Dated 1891, the present sheet is an especially fine example of the late drawings of heads that were much admired by Menzel’s contemporaries, critics and collectors. The treatment of the hair and beard, drawn with very fine pencil strokes, as well as the soft stumped areas of the face and clothing, are a particular feature of these character studies. Like many of Menzel’s late drawings, this striking study of an elderly bearded man, drawn with considerable assurance and dexterity, cannot be related to any painting or gouache by the artist, and was in all likelihood executed for its own sake.
The first owner of this drawing was the Austrian industrialist Moritz Edler von Kuffner (1854-1939), a brewer and property developer who was one of the most significant Viennese collectors of the 19th century. (He was also a prominent and gifted mountaineer.) Von Kuffner assembled a very fine collection of drawings by Menzel, as well as drawings by Jacopo Ligozzi, Rembrandt, Rudolf von Alt, and others. (The Menzel drawings in the collection were noted by Hans Tietze in his magisterial book on the artworks of Vienna, published in 19084.) Such was the renown of the Menzel drawings in the Kuffner collection that at one point thirteen sheets by the artist were earmarked for acquisition by the curator of the Albertina in Vienna, Otto Benesch. However, all but one of the drawings were eventually returned to the family in July 1938, shortly before they were forced to emigrate to Switzerland, following the Anschluss. The drawings were inherited by Moritz’s son Stephan Kuffner (1894-1976), and eventually passed to his niece, Vera von Kuffner Eberstadt (1928-2014).
His son, Stephan von Kuffner
Thence by descent to Moritz von Kuffner’s granddaughter, Vera von Kuffner Eberstadt, New York.