Lot 10
  • 10

Albin Egger-Lienz

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
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  • Albin Egger-Lienz
  • Ave Maria nach der Schlacht am Bergisel (Prayer after the Battle of Bergisel)
  • signed and inscribed A. Egger-Lienz/München lower right; inscribed Das Ave Maria n.d. Kampfe / am Berg Isel / 1809 / Alle Rechte / vorbehalten on the reverse  
  • oil on canvas
  • 140.5 by 200cm., 55¼ by 78¾in.


Edmund von Mojsisovics, Vienna
Hugo Liebermann-Roßwiese
Acquired by the family of the present owner circa 1910


Heinrich Hammer, Albin Egger-Lienz, Innsbruck, Vienna & Munich, 1930, p. 49, illustrated; p. 265, catalogued 
Kristian Sotriffer, Albin Egger-Lienz, Vienna, 1983, p. 37, illustrated
Wilfried Kirschl, Albin Egger-Lienz. Das Gesamtwerk, Vienna & Munich, 1996, vol. I, pp. 38-47, the composition discussed; vol. II, p. 510, illustrated; p. 511, no. M89, catalogued (as whereabouts unknown)


This condition report has been provided by Hamish Dewar, Hamish Dewar Ltd. Fine Art Conservation, 14 Masons Yard, Duke Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6BU. Structural Condition The canvas is unlined on what would certainly appear to be the original, keyed wooden stretcher. This is ensuring and even and secure structural support. Paint surface The paint surface has a discoloured varnish layer and should respond well to cleaning and revarnishing. There are some very minor abrasions on the paint surface. Inspection under ultra-violet light shows a number of retouchings. These are all clearly excessive and I would be confident that should they be removed the total amount of inpainting on the paint surface could be greatly reduced. The most significant of these quite extensive retouchings are: 1) on and around the central figures wearing a blue jacket, 2) on and around the small figures on the right of the composition, 3) in the dark woods above the figures, and 4) around the framing edges and particularly on the lower horizontal framing edge. Summary The painting is therefore in reasonably good and stable condition and would benefit considerably from the removal of the rather crudely applied retouchings and from cleaning and revarnishing.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Ave Maria nach der Schlacht am Bergisel, showing Tyrolean militiamen at prayer after the battle of Bergisel in 1809, is arguably Egger-Lienz's most famous early composition. The largest version (measuring 343 by 493cm.), is in the collection of the Ferdinandeum in Innsbruck (Kirschl, no. M72), and occupied him for some three years, from 1894-1896. The present smaller version, identical in almost every detail, was painted soon afterwards, in 1897. 

The four battles of Bergisel, marking their bicentenary this year, occurred between April and November 1809 at the Bergisel hill near Innsbruck. There Napoleon joined forces with Bavaria against local Tyrolean militiamen and Austrian soldiers. Although the Tyrolean and Austrian soldiers won the first few battles, they were defeated at the conclusive one. This sombre yet hopeful rendering of faith in face of defeat is among Egger's most empathetic and patriotic compositions.

The importance Egger-Lienz attached to the composition, and the time he spent developing his thoughts on it, are borne out by the extensive preparatory sketches and oils he made. These range from studies of individual figures including the central standard bearer and the fallen French soldiers on the right (Kirschl, nos. M74-M88), to a final preparatory sketch of the whole composition (Kirschl, no. M73).  

In contrast to Egger's later work, the present work exudes remarkable calm. Egger divests a momentous event of all overt drama, giving expression to what has happened through the brave, pious expressions of the motionless men. Egger's early Realist style, influenced by his teacher Franz Defregger at the Munich Academy, lent itself perfectly to this psychological drama, the gravity of the situation reflected in each individual face.

FIG. 1, Egger-Lienz at work on the large version of Ave Maria nach der Schlacht am Bergisel