19th Century European Paintings

19th Century European Paintings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 35. WILHELM LEIBL | Portrait of a Man with Green Hat.


WILHELM LEIBL | Portrait of a Man with Green Hat

Auction Closed

July 9, 02:03 PM GMT


80,000 - 120,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property Sold in settlement between the present owner and the heirs of the estate Abraham Adelsberger / Alfred Isay




Portrait of a Man with Green Hat

signed W. Leibl lower right

oil on canvas

26 by 19cm., 10¼ by 7½in.

Gurlitt collection, Berlin

Geheimrat Kopetzky, Berlin

Abraham Adelsberger, Nuremberg (Adelsberger (1863-1940) was a Nuremberg industrialist and entrpreneur, who ran a hop business and owned the tin toy manufactory Heinrich Fischer & Cie, which employed over 300 at its height. On the back of his success he was able to build an outstanding art collection, which included important Old Masters, including Jupiter and Antiope by the Dutch painter Hendrick Goltzius as well as contemporary nineteenth-century works. In 1937 he was forced to sell his house and other properties, and his toy factoiry was aryanised. While his children Paul and Sofie had fled Nazi Germany as early as 1934, Adelsberger and his wife Clotilde remained in Nuremberg, finally fleeing to Amsterdam in 1939, and able to bring only part of their art collection with them, including the Goltzius (which was subsequently subject to a forced sale to Hermann Göring). Adelsberger died in Amsterdam, and his wife was deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1943, but survived. The Goltzius was restitiuted to the Adelsberger heirs in 2010, when it was sold at Sotheby’s New York for $6.8m).

Abraham Adelsberger's sale: Hugo Helbing, Munich, 14 November 1931, lot 90, where unsold)

Transferred from Abraham Adelsberger to Alfred Isay (his son in law) in 1930

On deposit with the Dresdner Bank, Nuremberg by 1935

Sold by the above to the Nationalgalerie, Berlin in August 1935

De-accessioned and sold by the above to the husband of the present owner on 29 February 1936

Emil Waldmann, Wilhelm Leibl, Berlin, 1914, p. 24, no. 225, catalogued, fig. 195, illustrated (as Männerkopf mit grünem Hut)

Lynn Rother, Kunst durch Kredit: Die Berliner Museen und Ihre Erwerbungen von der Dresdner Bank 1935, New York, 2017, p. 413, no. 23, listed

This striking and direct portrait epitomises Leibl's Realist aesthetic, inspired by the work of Gustave Courbet, whom he met in Munich in 1869. Leibl at the time was a student at the Munich Academy; Courbet an already established painter who was visiting the city for an exhibition of his work there. Courbet's uncompromising style left a deep impression on many local artists, and it was on the Frenchman's recommendation that Leibl travelled to Paris that same year, where he was also introduced to Edouard Manet. Upon the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Leibl returned to Bavaria, where he spent the rest of his life. Though from the Rhineland, he felt a profound affinity towards the humble people of the Bavarian countryside, drawn by their friendliness and down-to-earthiness which appealed to his deeply human temperament. 

Leibl's entire oeuvre is about the human face, at times concentrated, devoted, contemplative, but always richly expressive and painted with an unashamed straightforwardness. Whether in his earlier, more painterly works, in which composition is subordinate to a highly finished paint surface, or in his later, more reduced pictures showing the workings underlying his draughtsmanship, a simplicity and almost Düreresque clarity always remains, lifting his subjects out of their modest circumstances to a higher plane. Leibl painted without preliminary drawing, setting to work directly with paint. His commitment to the representation of reality as the eye sees it earned him recognition in his lifetime as the preeminent artist of a group known as the Leibl-Kreis (Leibl Circle) that included, among others, Carl Schuch, Wilhelm Trübner, Otto Scholderer, and Hans Thoma.

Painted circa 1895.