Lot 6
  • 6

Adolph von Menzel

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Adolph Menzel
  • Umgestürzter Teekessel (upturned teapot)
  • signed with initials and dated A.M. 1856 upper right

  • oil on canvas

  • 32.5 by 40.5cm., 12¾ by 16in.


Walter Westfeld (b. 1889), Wuppertal-Elberfeld (Wuppertal art dealer persecuted by the National Socialist regime. He was deported to Theresienstadt and perished in Auschwitz)
Confiscated by the Devisenfahndungsstelle in November 1938
Generalstaatsanwaltschaft Düsseldorf (sale: Lempertz, Cologne, 12-13 December 1939, lot 214)
Wilhelm Döring, Aachen (by 1955)
Private collection, Switzerland
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (acquired in 2004)


Berlin, Nationalgalerie (Museum Dahlem), Adolph v. Menzel, aus Anlass seines 50. Todestages, 1955, no. 79
Paris, Musée d'Orsay; Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art; Berlin, Nationalgalerie: Adolph Menzel: Between Romanticism and Impressionism  / Adolph Menzel: Das Labyrinth der Wirklichkeit, 1996-1997, no. 81, illustrated in the catalogue (exhibited in Berlin only)
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, permanent collection, 2004-2009


Guido Kern, 'Ein neuer Menzel-Fund', Weltkunst, vol. 21, no. 17, 1951, p. 4
Claude Keisch, 'Neues von Menzel', Museumsjournal, no. 2, April 1997, pp. 62-65, illustrated

Catalogue Note

In this rare and highly original still life by the artist, Menzel at once quotes, and provocatively challenges, the baroque still life tradition. Consciously incidental, Upturned Teapot breaks with the precepts of literal symbolism to capture a trivial, fleeting moment. The teapot's pirouetting, gravity-defying position, accentuated by the inert lid fused solidly to the table, lends it an almost anthropomorphic, autonomous presence as of a performer on a dark stage, calling into question the very relationship between objects.

Menzel spent a great deal of time studying the work of Rembrandt during the 1850s. In its palette and use of dramatic chiaroscuro the present work can be read as a dialogue with the seventeenth-century master, in which Menzel reinterprets the latter's techniques to his own innovative ends. The disquieting position of a traditional prop, the unusual foreshortening of the handle and aperture, and its bright illumination against a lifeless dark background, imbue an inanimate object with its own existence in space.

In this respect the painting comes close to Studio Wall (fig. 1), painted four years earlier, but it also points the way to his series of gouaches, Fantasies from the Arms Room of 1866 (fig. 2), in which suits of armour take on their own autonomy.

FIG. 1, Adolph Menzel, Studio Wall, oil on paper, 1852, Nationalgalerie, Berlin

FIG. 2, Adolph Menzel, Suits of Armour, 1866, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin