Karl-Ernest-Rudolph-Heinrich Salem LEHMANN (Kiel 1814 - Paris 1882)

Four Studies of a Female Nude Sold

Pencil on buff paper, backed.
253 x 193 mm. (10 x 7 5/8 in.)


This is an early preparatory study for one of the central figures in Henri Lehmann’s large painting of The Despair of the Oceanids at the Base of the Rock upon which Prometheus is Enchained, commissioned from the artist in 1849 by the State, for the sum of 6,000 francs, and intended for the Musée du Luxembourg. The painting was completed in 1850 and exhibited at the Salon of that year. Today in the collection of the Musée départmental des Hautes-Alpes in Gap, this monumental painting – over two and a half metres in height - served to firmly establish Lehmann’s reputation.

This drawing gives some idea of the care with which Lehmann prepared his compositions, and shows the artist working out the pose of the central oceanid in the final painting. He would produce many individual studies for each of the figures in his paintings, often studying the pose first with a nude model – a legacy of his training with Ingres - before adding clothing to the figure. Two more finished studies for the same floating nymph, drawn in black, red and white chalk, are in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Orléans.

Lehmann had treated the same theme in an earlier painting of 1844, which was exhibited at the Salon in 1846 but is now lost.

Karl-Ernest-Rudolph-Heinrich Salem LEHMANN

Four Studies of a Female Nude


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