Lot 34
  • 34

Otto Mueller

600,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • Otto Mueller
  • Akt im Spiegel mit Selbstbildnis (Nude in Mirror with Self-Portrait) or Akt mit Selbstbildnis vor dem Spiegel (Nude with Self-Portrait before the Mirror)
  • Signed OM (upper right)
  • Distemper on burlap
  • 37 7/8 by 28 3/4 in.
  • 96.3 by 73 cm


Ferdinand Möller (Galerie Ferdinand Möller), Berlin & Cologne (until the early 1960s)

Angelika Möller, Cologne (by descent from the above and until 1965)

Private Collection, Hamburg (acquired from the above in 1965)

Thence by descent 


Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Berlin, 1930

Breslau, Schlesisches Museum der bildenden Künste, Otto Mueller 1874-1930, 1931, no. 27 (titled Selbildinis im Spiegel mit Akt)

Venice, XXVI Biennale Internationale d'Arte di Venezia, 1952, no. 157

Cologne, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Malerei des 20. Jahrhunderts in Kölner Privatbesitz, 1957, no. 86

Cologne, Dom Galerie, Otto Mueller, 1963, no. 4, illustrated in the catalogue

Cologne, Dom Galerie, Gedächtnisausstellung Sammlung Ferdinand Möller, 1966

Munich, Galerie Thomas, A 11 Art Forum, Otto Mueller, 1988


Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Otto Mueller. Leben und Werk, Feldafing, 1963, no. 45, illustrated p. 120

Ewald Rathke, "La Brücke, Mueller, Nolde, La Grafica" in L'arte Moderna, no. 23, vol. III, Milan, 1967, illustrated p. 166

Eberhard Roters, Galerie Ferdinand Möller, Die Geschichte einer Galerie für moderne Kunst in Deutschland 1917-1956, Berlin, 1984, cited p. 106 & illustrated p. 105

Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau, Otto Mueller, Cologne, 1993, illustrated p. 80

Johann Georg Prinz von Hohenzollern & Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau, eds., Otto Mueller, Munich, 2003, illustrated p. 67

Johann Georg Prinz von Hohenzollern, Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau & Tanja Pirsig, Otto Mueller Werkverzeichnis, Munich, 2003, no. 164 (CD-ROM)

Einfach. Eigen. Einzig. Otto Mueller, 1874-1930, Wegbereiter der Künstlergruppe Brücke und deren selbstverständliches Mitglied (exhibition catalogue), Zwickauer Kunstsammlung, Zwickau; Kunsthalle Vogelmann, Heilbronn & Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, 2012-13, vol. II, illustrated p. 138

Catalogue Note

Painted circa 1922, Akt mit Spiegel mit Selbstbildnis, is an important example of Otto Mueller’s mature work. Celebrated for his nudes and landscapes, self-portraiture was another key aspect of his work, and one which he returned to repeatedly, especially during this period in his career. Using a favorite compositional device, here Mueller depicts his wife Elsbeth standing in front of a looking glass, with his own features joining hers in the mirrored surface. The artist’s presence in these works is barely registered by the self-absorbed nudes, who are, more often than not, captivated by their own sensual appearance. Though the atmosphere and overall tone is one of lyrical timelessness, one that is allied to the grand tradition of nineteenth century figure painting, Mueller’s work is nonetheless highly affecting. Psychologically astute and often struggling in his private life, Mueller’s interest in self-portraiture was one that he shared with his fellow Expressionists, an interest which would become one of the defining features of their art.

Mueller joined Die Brücke group in 1910, becoming one of the only members to have any formal training as a painter. The previous year he had exhibited a bathing scene at the first exhibition of the Neue Sezession in Berlin, which attracted the attention of the founder members of Die Brücke, who admired its freely composed, faux-naïve qualities. One particularly innovative contribution that Mueller made to the Brücke group, for which he was greatly admired by his fellow painters, was his use of distemper. Discussing this development, Peter Selz writes: “This new technique was extremely important, because it helped all the painters to get away from the pastose tenacity of oil and the method of applying paint in thick blotches, and to start painting in the large planes that they had already worked into their woodcuts” (P. Selz, German Expressionist Painting, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1957, p. 115). Mueller continued to use and adapt distemper throughout his career, and it is this medium that endows the present works rich, almost fresco-like quality.