Adolph Von MENZEL (Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)
Men and Soldiers at a Shooting Range
Graphite, with stumping and scratching out, heightened with white on prepared paper.
Signed and inscribed Wollen Sie obiger Kritzelung / irgendwo ihren Mappen ein Ruhe örtchen / gönnen in Herzlicher Hochachtung / Menzel in pencil in the margin of the sheet, at the lower right.
210 x 290 mm. (8 1/4 x 11 3/8 in.) [image]
299 x 391 mm. (11 3/4 x 15 3/8 in.) [sheet]
This large and highly finished sheet may have been drawn at a shooting club which Menzel is known to have visited in the 1840s, in the city of Liegnitz in his native Silesia. It was during this period that the artist agreed to paint, as a prize in a shooting competition in 1844, a very large target painting of a Falcon Swooping on a Dove, which is now in the collection of the Nationalgalerie in Berlin. As Menzel wrote, many years later and somewhat disparagingly, to the then owner of the unsigned painting, ‘In the early 1840s, I did indeed paint the target you describe; it was for a shooting match organized by a club whose honoured guest I was on several occasions. I have no wish to see it ever again. On the contrary, I would have felt happier if it had been peppered with bullets by the club’s many excellent marksmen – they have all completely passed from my memory.’
Given the impressive margins of the sheet, this drawing may have been intended as a design for a lithograph or wood engraving, although no print of this subject is known. The dedication written in the artist’s distinctive handwriting in the margins of the drawing may be approximately translated as ‘Would you give this little doodle a small resting place somewhere in your portfolios? With heartfelt respects, Menzel.’
Anonymous sale, New York, Christie’s, 25 January 2005, lot 231
Jean-Luc Baroni Ltd., London, in 2006