Adolph MENZEL (Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)
Three Studies of a Bearded Man Facing Left
Carpenter’s pencil, with stumping.
Signed with initials A. M. at the lower left centre.
210 x 128 mm. (8 1/4 x 5 in.)
This drawing, a page from one of the artist’s sketchbooks, may be tentatively identified as a first idea for the head of a uniformed man looking over a balcony in Menzel’s small painting Scene at a Ball (Im Weissen Saal), painted in 1888 and today in the Museum Georg Schäfer in Schweinfurt. While the physiognomy of the model is very similar in both the painting and the drawing, the angle of the head is slightly different in the finished work, as is the man’s costume. A similar sheet of studies of what may be the same man, more definitively related to the 1888 painting, is illustrated in one of the earliest monographs devoted to Menzel, published in 1895.
In many of his drawings, Menzel would mark what he felt was a particularly successful study of a pose or figure with a small cross. This is found in the present example, just below the main figure, and again below a subsidiary study of the man’s head at the upper right of the page. As a modern scholar has noted of Menzel, ‘The drawings in his sketchbooks differ from his resolved autonomous compositions. The former seek to capture fleeting movements, gestures, and expressions and are often executed at great speed. When Menzel was satisfied with his rapid observational sketch and considered it potentially useful, he would mark it with a little cross next to the figures.’
Galerie Bollag, Zurich
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 4 December 1979, lot 210b
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 1 July 1980, lot 115
Private collection, Berlin
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Villa Grisebach, 28 May 2014, lot 228