Lot 12
  • 12

Adolph von Menzel

20,000 - 30,000 USD
40,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Adolph Menzel
  • Head of an Old Man, his eyes raised
  • Black chalk and stumping;signed and dated, lower right: Menzel / 95.
  • 130 by 78 mm; 5 1/8  by 3 1/8  in


With H. Shickman Gallery, New York,
where acquired in 1973

Catalogue Note

The present work, portraying the upraised head and eyes of an old man, is a highly emotive example of Menzel's virtuosity as a draughtsman, demonstrating the artist’s ability to couple crisp, bold lines with the soft, delicate effects created through the technique of stumping.  These contrasting styles of handling allowed the artist, when necessary, to combine high levels of detail alongside the softer, more delicate textures required for the modelling of facial features or items of clothing. Menzel captures in this drawing the weary, weather-beaten face of an elderly man whilst simultaneously imbuing the work with immense emotional depth, creating through his subject’s glistening eyes and furrowed brow, a strong sense of pathos.

Menzel was a prolific draughtsman and during the course of his long career made a large number of drawings, some minor and sketchy, others such as the present lot, more diligently worked up and full of personality, an added dimension that many of his contemporaries in the 19th Century did not or could not achieve. The vast majority of Menzel’s drawings are not directly connected to finished paintings, but were instead created by a fascinating and wildly talented man, who for the best part of sixty years, never left home without a sketch book and drawing instruments and was known to regularly - and in a totally unannounced fashion - begin drawing people, whether strangers on the street or elegant company at a society event. This obsessive need to draw, both as a way to satisfy his own artistic instincts, and as a means of documenting his social surroundings, resulted in Menzel becoming one of the most accomplished and instantly recognizable draughtsmen active in the 19th Century.