(Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)
A Bearded Man Looking Down and to the Right
Signed with initials and dated A. M./ 92 at the upper right.
208 x 130 mm. (8 1/8 x 5 1/8 in.)
The present sheet displays Menzel’s particular mastery, while drawing in monochrome, of the use of a combination of a soft carpenter’s pencil with stumping to create remarkable tonal effects. The soft greys of the model’s face, hair and coat, drawn with the stumped pencil, provide a contrast with the more precise strokes of the pencil seen in the beard. Like several of Menzel’s late head studies, the model here is depicted from a slightly unusual angle, while the image fills the page, constrained only by the edges of the sheet.
Drawn on a relatively small scale, these intimate late ‘portrait’ studies were much admired in Menzel’s own lifetime. As one contemporary writer noted of the artist in 1902, ‘The best legacy among his later works are these drawings…His dominating skill is to take the great drama of gesture and facial expression by surprise and to render it in all the force of vitality.’
Anonymous sale, New York, Bonham’s, 26 January 2007, lot 45
Jill Newhouse, New York