(Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)
Studies of a Man with his Head Bowed
Signed with initials and dated A. M. 81. at the upper right.
126 x 194 mm. (5 x 7 5/8 in.)
Menzel had a longstanding interest in Baroque buildings and their interiors – a development of his earlier studies of the interiors of 18th century Prussian palaces and buildings from the time of Frederick the Great - and produced drawings and gouaches of churches throughout his career. As Marie Ursula Riemann-Reyher has noted in her description of the gouache: ‘With a few exceptions…Menzel’s church interiors are peopled by congregations and vergers, and appear as places of urban communication. From the hand of the priest in the pulpit, raised in blessing, the eye moves downwards to where the congregation is only partly paying attention as a server moves the purse and bell in front of them on the end of a long pole…In the gigantic area of the parish church…only the two pillars and a small part of the wall between is visible. The pillars, which are depicted much larger than their actual size, alone create the impression of a colossal church of resplendent colour.’
As one modern scholar has noted, ‘a sketch [Menzel] considered failed could be unceremoniously crossed out. Very often he only crossed out the face of the figure. One can speculate about the reasons for this. The most straightforward one would be that Menzel was dissatisfied with his attempt at capturing a facial expression. But it is also conceivable that he was only really interested in the gesture, the movement of the body, or the drape and hang of a piece of clothing – that the head was incidental to the motif.’
Other preparatory figure studies by Menzel for the Sermon in the Parish Church of Innsbruckare in the Kupfertichkabinett in Berlin, the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg, and elsewhere.
Anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot [Tajan], 18 May 2006, lot 209