Adolph MENZEL (Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)

Studies of Three Men Sold

Charcoal and coloured chalks, with stumping, on brown paper with the corners cut.
Inscribed Erinnerung in red chalk at the lower right.
Further inscribed and dated Dieses Blatt ist eine Originalscizze / bes berühmten Berliner Maler Adolf / Menzel und stammt aus dem Besitz / einer auch ihm lieb gewesenen Frau, / die seiner Schwester. Ich kaufte dieses / aus des meisters jüngeren Jahren stam- / mende Original auf der Lepkeschen Auction / zu Berlin am 25. Mai 1886. / August Frhr. v. Minnigerode - Allerburg on the verso.
Also inscribed Original v. Adolph Menzel/ [?] [?] / Rudolph Lepke / f 20211 on the verso.
Further inscribed (under the numberf 20211) Nummer des Hauptbuchs des vereideten / Königl. Auctionators Rudolf Lepke on the verso.
267 x 326 mm. (10 1/2 x 12 7/8 in.)


The standing man holding a top hat, seen at the left of the present sheet, is developed from a rapidly drawn figure in pen and ink on a sheet of studies by Menzel in the Graphische Sammlung of the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. The Stuttgart drawing, which also includes two self-portrait sketches and studies of seated concertgoers, is drawn on the back of a concert programme dated the 24th of February 1847. A stylistically comparable study in coloured chalks of a man seated at a concert, which can also be related to the figures in the Stuttgart sketch, is in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin. A pastel study on brown paper of two seated men at a concert, dated 11 February 1849, in the collection of the Albertina in Vienna, may also be related to the present sheet.

This pastel sketch may also be stylistically and thematically related to a series of coloured chalk studies on brown paper by Menzel of the late 1840s and early 1850s. Many of these drawings depict electors and voters at assembly meetings, during the elections held in May 1848 for the national assembly in Frankfurt and the state assembly of Prussia, following the failed Revolution in Berlin earlier that year. Any male citizen over twenty-four years of age was eligible to take part in these parliamentary elections, as a primary voter, or urwähler. These Urwählen elected delegates who were in turn empowered to vote for one of the several hundred members of the national assemblies. 

Menzel attended some of these meetings of voters in Berlin, which comprised men from different social classes. As he noted in a letter of May 1848 to his friend Carl Heinrich Arnold, ‘Yesterday it was election day throughout the State. In my ward voting went on from eight in the morning till nine at night (with a half-hour break at midday), which was fairly acceptable, since in some wards voting went on till midnight or two in the morning…These were the primary elections – this week those elected have got to choose their MPs for Prussia and Frankfurt. Leaving aside the importance of this event, there was so much that was interesting and fine to see in the preliminary assemblies alone!’

Menzel’s pastel studies of the voters were made some months after the elections, in January 1849, and were drawn from memory. (As in the present sheet, the artist often inscribed the word ‘Erinnerung’, meaning ‘recollection’ or ‘memento’, on those of his drawings which were not made from life, but which instead represented the artist’s memory of a particular event or motif.) The most finished of Menzel’s pastel studies is Primary Voters (DieUrwähler), dated January 1849, in the collection of the Museum Folkwang in Essen. A stylistically comparable study of Two Voters in Conversation, also in coloured chalks and dated 29 January 1849, is in the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, while a related pastel study of three figures on a bench, likewise dated January 1849, is in a private collection. 

Sale, Berlin, Rudolph Lepke, 25 May 1886 (according to the inscription on the verso), bt. Minnegerode-Allerburg
Ludwig August Wilhelm, Freiherr von Minnegerode-Allerburg, Berlin
His posthumous sale, Berlin, Rudolf Lepke, 16 October 1917, lot 132 (‘Ad. von Menzel. Ein Blatt mit drei männlichen Figurenstudien. Pastell. Bezeichnet: Erinnerung. Die Ecken abgeschnitten. H. 26 cm, Br. 32 cm. Gerahmt.’)
Anonymous sale, Munich, Sotheby’s, 30 June 1998, lot 48
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Villa Grisebach, 26 November 2014, lot 197
Private collection.


Studies of Three Men


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