(Breslau 1815 - Berlin 1905)
A Woman Holding an Umbrella
Signed with initials and dated A. M. / 82. at the lower right.
204 x 127 mm. (8 x 5 in.)
As the Menzel scholar Claude Keisch has described the large canvas, ‘The painter exaggerates the already known principle…of ‘assembling’ elements (figures, groups, areas of space) so that each retains an autonomous existence…All the little everyday catastrophes to which Menzel has accustomed us in his paintings are multiplied here, the most noticeable being the misfortune of the couple of well-off foreign travellers frightened by the rough acrobatics of some boys.’ And, as another writer has described this group, ‘On the left of the composition, two English tourists are easily picked out by their light clothing. They are trying to fend off a group of pushy street urchins performing cartwheels and somersaults by hitting them with their umbrellas. Who else but the English would carry an umbrella in this weather?’
Other preparatory drawings by Menzel for the same figure of a female English tourist include a costume study, dated 1883, in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, and a study of the woman’s left hand in the Städtische Wessenberg-Galerie in Konstanz. A drawing of the woman’s head was formerly in the extensive collection of Menzel drawings belonging to Gustav Henneberg in Zurich and sold at auction in Germany in 1903, while a study of her upper body and head was also in the Henneberg collection and appeared at auction in Germany in 1903 and 1912.
A thumbnail sketch of the present sheet is found in a drawing by Menzel, containing small sketches recording twenty-four of his individual figure studies for the Piazza d’Erbe painting, in the collection of the Museum der Stadt Nürnberg in Nuremberg.