View full screen - View 1 of Lot 136. PETER ALFRED SCHOU  |  SELF PORTRAIT.
136

PETER ALFRED SCHOU | SELF PORTRAIT

Estimate:

5,000

to
- 7,000 USD

Property from Ambrose Naumann Fine Art, New York

PETER ALFRED SCHOU | SELF PORTRAIT

PETER ALFRED SCHOU | SELF PORTRAIT

Estimate:

5,000

to
- 7,000 USD

Lot sold:

6,000

USD

Property from Ambrose Naumann Fine Art, New York

PETER ALFRED SCHOU

Copenhagen 1844 – 1914

SELF PORTRAIT


oil on canvas

unframed: 19 3⁄4 x 24 in.; 50 x 60.1 cm.

framed: 25 ¼ x 39⅜ in.; 64.1 x 100 cm.

This painting is in very fresh and overall untouched state. The canvas is unlined, although the edges have been strip lined to secure it on what appears to be its original stretcher. The paint on the surface is applied with a "crusty" technique, which is well preserved. There is some slight craquelure visible, typical of an unlined canvas. This is, however, not distracting in any way. Under UV: There are a few scattered tiny touches addressing extremely small and localized issues. Offered in a modern dark molded frame.


The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.

"The history of self-portraits in the Western tradition is rich and varied. There is perhaps no better way to cut to the heart of an artist’s intention and message than to see the way they chose to portray themselves. From Van Eyck to Dürer, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Freud, self-portraits very often become the enduring images from an artist’s career. Schou’s own self-portrait is piercing. He is seemingly towards the end of his career and, as his biography attests, burdened with personal struggles that are hinted at here. He is serious, scholarly, and accomplished—all as he wishes to be seen."


David Pollack


Born in 1844 in Copenhagen, Peter Alfred Schou was interested in art from a young age. Despite his love of painting, he chose to attend trade school, following his father into the family business. He spent much of his life in Hamburg, where he moved in 1865 to supervise his business’s affairs. While here, he traveled extensively throughout Germany and Scandinavia, and subsequently fell in love with Felicia Griffé, a French woman he met in Stockholm. The happy years of Schou’s youth came to an end in 1867 when his brother, the painter Ludvig Abelin Schou (1838-1867), died from cholera while painting in Florence at the age of twenty-nine. A second blow arrived two years later, when Griffé also died prematurely. It was likely these immense losses that spurred Schou’s decision to finally pursue his long-standing passion for painting.


Schou began his formal artistic training in 1873 at the Academy of Fine Art in Dresden. In 1875 he moved to Paris, where he studied under Théobold Chartran, the famed Vanity Fair caricaturist, and later under Léon Bonnat from 1879-1880. Schou exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time in 1880, returning to Hamburg the year after. It was in Paris, however, that he connected with some of his most important and influential Danish contacts, most notably the painter and future art critic Karl Madsen (1855-1938) and his mentor, the poet and Skagen painter Holger Drachmann (1846-1908). 


Collectors in Schou’s native Denmark did not immediately take to his work. He likely remained in Hamburg for so long because his 1882 submission to the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition was rejected by the censorship committee. A defeated Schou returned to Germany and founded his own venue called the Aktclub, where artists could paint and exhibit without the academic rigidity that he felt had spited him in Copenhagen. Schou’s work was better received after his later homecoming in 1898. After his first exhibition in 1902, he continued to exhibit frequently in Denmark, as well as in other European countries including England and Sweden. He went on to earn the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art’s Eckersberg Medal two times, in 1908 and 1912, and in 1911 he was awarded Det Anckerske Legat, a grant given to outstanding artists, composers and writers to fund travel abroad. After his death in 1914, the artist’s notable career was honored with a memorial exhibition, fittingly held at the Charlottenborg. 


The present self portrait was likely painted around 1900, after Schou had returned to Copenhagen from Hamburg. It epitomizes his talent for capturing moments of quietude in atmospheric interiors. Soft light is created by a palette of browns, deep ochers and rust tones, which contrasts gently against the figure’s pale skin. Schou depicted himself in a black suit and tie, a comparatively formal presentation to other self portraits, in which he dons an artist’s smock (fig. 1). He looks out with stoic intensity, his wrinkles and grayed hair signifying a man of experience and pride. Intriguingly, Schou does not capture himself while working. Instead his brush is at rest, as if he is considering his reflection with a greater intent than simply painting its likeness.