Lot 126
  • 126

Otto Mueller

200,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Otto Mueller
  • Junge Zigeunerin (Young Gypsy)
  • Signed Otto Mueller (lower right)
  • Watercolor, colored crayon and brush and ink on paper
  • 23 3/8 by 18 1/4 in.
  • 59.4 by 46.4 cm


Gallerie Pels-Leusden, Berlin
Private Collection, Germany (acquired from the above in 1980 and sold: Sotheby's, London, December 5, 1990, lot 342)
Acquired at the above sale by A. Alfred Taubman


Lother-Günther Buchheim, Otto Mueller, Leben und Werk, Munich, 1963, illustrated in color p. 252

Catalogue Note

Mueller was fascinated by the intriguing and alluring world of the gypsies and these alluring women appear nude or semi-clad in many of his paintings. From her jet black hair, olive skin tone and bohemian dress, the model in the present work indeed appears to be a Zigeunerin—a gypsy girl. During the early 1920s, the artist began to explore the gypsy colonies in Dalmatia. Mueller himself was rumored to be part gypsy and he drew an endless inspiration from the contact he made with this free, nature-loving culture, living outside the norms of mainstream German society.

Barry Herbert writes of Mueller’s vision thus: “[Mueller’s art] is a poetic vision of a fantasy dream world incorporating influences that ranged from ancient Egypt to Ludwig von Hofmann…from Lucas Cranach’s ambiguously erotic female nudes (Mueller kept a reproduction of Cranach’s Venus on his studio wall) to the work of Wilhelm Lehmbruck whose “limb architecture” was generally considered to be the best Contemporary Expressionist Sculpture” (Barry Herbert, German Expressionists, ‘Die Brücke’ and ‘Der Blaue Reiter,’ London, 1983, p. 64). Liegende Frau combines the “ambiguously erotic” that Mueller saw in Cranach with the angular, expressive “limb architecture” that the great Expressionist sculptor Wilhelm Lehmbruck had pioneered in the first decades of the century, a combination that imbues the painting with an enduring presence and simple yet monumental grace.

Mueller’s admiration for the forms and chalky surfaces of Egyptian wall paintings contributed to the development of his distinctive style as evidenced in the present work. Discussing Mueller’s technique, Peter Selz notes that by 1908 Mueller "had rediscovered the peculiar qualities of distemper (Leimfarbe), which medium permitted the unified application of liquid paint in thin layers over large planes. He was thus able to attain an effect like fresco, even tapestry. Kirchner, in the Chronik der Brücke said simply: 'He introduced us to the fascination of distemper technique'” (Peter Selz, German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1957, p. 115).