(Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)
A Man with a Birdcage
Signed with initials and dated AM. / 83 at the lower right.
212 x 122 mm. (8 3/8 x 4 3/4 in.)
The composition of the painting includes, to the left of centre, the prominent figures of two bird traders, one of whom holds a pole to which is attached a flying bird, while the other, also equipped with a bird on a pole, can be seen climbing up the side of a white market umbrella in order to prod his resting bird into flight. The figure depicted in the present sheet is likely to have been related to these bird traders. Although he does not appear in the final work, at least one other drawing of what appears to be the same man is known, in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, while his distinctive hat seems to have been used for the man seated in a horse-drawn cart at the right side of the painting.
As one modern writer has noted of the painting, ‘the laborers, vendors, shoppers, beggars, and children that populate this canvas come across as picturesque and often bizarre “characters” – typical specimens of the frequenters of the market at the Piazza d’Erbe – which is to say that they seem to have been viewed and portrayed by a perhaps not unsympathetic but fundamentally detached observer.’ Other studies of birdsellers in Verona appear in a sketchbook of 1881-1882, now in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin.
The present sheet was included in the 1965 Arts Council travelling exhibition 'Drawings and Watercolours by Adolph Menzel', to which it was lent by the German art dealer Wilhelm Weick.
Anonymous sale, Munich, Ketterer Kunst, 29 October 2010, lot 1213
Anonymous sale, Zurich, Koller Auktionen, 1 April 2011
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Villa Grisebach, 30 May 2012, lot 142