Adolph MENZEL (Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)

Portrait of Eduard Heinrich Kamke

Pencil, with stumping and heightened with touches of white, on prepared paper laid down on board.
Signed with initials and dated A. M. 51. at the lower right.
Inscribed Eduard Heinrich Kamke. / geb. 2/11 1806. gest. 24/6 1866. / gezeichnet von Menzel 1851. / Rosine Mathilda Kamke / geb. Heumann. / geb. 16/8 1827. gest. 1/3 1900 on a label formerly attached to the old backing board.
125 x 93 mm. (4 7/8 x 3 5/8 in.) at greatest dimensions.


Nothing is known of the sitter of this portrait, Eduard Heinrich Kamke (1806-1866). Menzel generally produced portraits of members of his own family or of friends and their families, and otherwise seems only rarely to have accepted portrait commissions. As he wrote in a letter of 1850, when he was thirty-five years old, ‘It is not my job to do portraits of all and sundry to suit the public taste or to ape fashion.’ Furthermore, as one modern scholar has noted, ‘For Menzel…the portrait with its inevitable focus on the face or indeed the social mask was at best a secondary genre. Not that his oeuvre is devoid of superb portraits…the best of which…are of men and women who mattered to him personally.’

The earliest known owner of this drawing was the toy manufacturer, merchant and prominent art collector Max (Maximilian) Minkowski (c.1851-1924), who lived in the East Prussian city of Königsberg (today Kaliningrad in Russia). He assembled a fine collection of furniture, oriental rugs and French art, and also served as French consul in Königsberg. Minkowski, whose younger brother Hermann was a noted mathematician, died childless, and his collection, including the present sheet, was dispersed at auction in Berlin in 1925. 

Consul Max Minkowski, Königsberg
His posthumous sale, Berlin, Rudolph Lepke, 12-15 May 1925, lot 242 (sold for 528 Marks)
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Internationales Kunst-und-Auktions Haus, 8-9 December 1933, lot 77
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Villa Grisebach, 25 November 2015, lot 213
Private collection.

H. C. Krüger, ‘Vorwort’, in Berlin, Rudolph Lepke’s Kunst-Auction-Haus, Kunstsammlung M. Minkowksi, Königsberg i Pr., 12-15 May 1925, unpaginated, illustrated pl.11.


Portrait of Eduard Heinrich Kamke


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