Lot 6
  • 6

Franz von Stuck

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
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  • Franz Von Stuck
  • The Dragon Slayer
  • signed and dated FRANZ / VON / STUCK / 1913 lower right
  • oil on panel
  • 135 by 126cm., 53¼ by 49½in.


Curt Berger, Leipzig
Acquired in Leipzig by the grandfather of the present owner in the late 1960s; thence by descent


Stuttgart, Grosse Kunstausstellung, 1913, no. 65
Munich, Secessionausstellung, 1914, no. 236


Die Kunst für Alle, vol. 28, 1912/13, p. 519
'Kunstchronik', Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, Neue Folge, Leipzig, vol. 24, 1912-13, p. 522
Hermann Tafel, 'Grosse Kunstausstellung in Stuttgart', in Die Kunst, Munich, 1913, vol. 27, p. 519, discussed
Die Kunst für Alle, vol. 31, 1915/16, p. 2, illustrated, p. 9, mentioned
Fritz von Ostini, 'Neue Arbeiten von Franz von Stuck', in Die Kunst, Munich, 1916, vol. 33, p. 2, illustrated; p. 9, described
Heinrich Voss, Franz von Stuck 1863-1928. Werkkatalog der Gemälde, Munich, 1973, p. 195, illustrated; p. 301, catalogued, no. 430/79


The following condition report has been provided by Hamish Dewar Ltd, 13 & 14 Mason's Yard, London SW1Y 6BU: UNCONDITIONAL AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE Structural Condition The artist's panel has four horizontal batons attached to the reverse. This is providing an even and stable structural support. There is an inscription on the reverse of the panel. Paint Surface The paint surface has a relatively uneven varnish layer. There are small scattered losses within the purple feathers of the man's helmet and several further losses within his face and hair. The paint surface has scattered accretions and small spotty disturbances to the varnish. There is a pattern of fine vertical lines of craquelure within the blue pigments in the upper right quadrant of the composition. These appear entirely stable and are not visually distracting. Inspection under ultra-violet light shows a yellowed and opaque varnish layer. Inspection under ultra-violet light also shows small scattered retouchings within the purple feather of the helmet, a retouching on the man's cheek, an area on the female figure's left arm, and a few further small scattered spots. It should be noted that due to the opaque nature of the varnish layers it is difficult to ascertain the extent of any previous restoration work. Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in good and stable condition and would benefit from cleaning, restoration and revarnishing.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

The Dragon Slayer is a particularly charged rendition of an age-old theme. Although most of Stuck's paintings depict scenes from the Antique or the Bible, neither the title The Dragon Slayer nor the iconography reveal the exact story behind the present work. Stuck's fascination with Greek legends suggests the subject to be Perseus and Andromeda, although Medusa's head and Perseus's winged shoes are missing. As early as 1900 Stuck’s contemporary, Lovis Corinth (lots 3, 4 & 5), had painted the hero as a medieval knight rather than a Greek half-god, and his Perseus and Andromeda may have been a possible source of inspiration for the present work. Another obvious influence would have been the biblical story of St. George, who kills the dragon to save a virgin.

Whichever myth the artist intended, The Dragon Slayer is shrouded in an unquestionably erotic aura which is typical for Stuck's mythologizing work. As in others of his paintings, the original meaning of the story, the fight against the dragon and the victory of good over evil, has been replaced by something much more modern for Stuck's time: the relationship between the sexes. The dragon, in former iconographic tradition the main motif, is here relegated, quite literally, to the side lines, while the focus is on the figures' embrace.

Influenced by the texts of Sigmund Freud, Stuck often depicted woman as dangerous, independent and predatory. This is probably most obvious in his depictions of the sphinx, however the subtext is very much present in this painting. While the man's attention is solely focused on the woman as he holds her protectively, her gaze is enigmatically outward towards the viewer.