View full screen - View 1 of Lot 118. The Council of the Greeks before the battle for Troy.
118

Attributed to Johann Martin von Wagner

The Council of the Greeks before the battle for Troy

Estimate:

2,000 to - 3,000 GBP

Attributed to Johann Martin von Wagner

Attributed to Johann Martin von Wagner

The Council of the Greeks before the battle for Troy

The Council of the Greeks before the battle for Troy

Estimate:

2,000 to - 3,000 GBP

Lot sold:

7,560

GBP

Attributed to Johann Martin von Wagner

Würzburg 1777 - 1858 Rome

The Council of the Greeks before the battle for Troy


oil on canvas

unframed: 60 x 84.4 cm.; 23⅝ x 33½ in.

framed: 77.1 x 104.4 cm.; 30½ x 41⅛ in.

The canvas has a firm lining, and the paint surface is relatively dirty with a discoloured varnish. Stretcher marks along all four margins are visible under raking light. Small, fine lines of discoloured retouching are visible throughout the background, as well as some spots in the male figure sitting on the ground lower centre. Inspection under ultraviolet light confirms these, and also reveals a more concentrated section of retouching in the sky around the man holding a spear upper left, as well as further revealing scattered, cosmetic retouching in the landscape. Retouching in the figures is confined to small, fine lines in all the figures' hair, some pin-prick spots very sparsely scattered in their bodies, and retouching in the top of the drapery of the white-haired man upper centre. In overall fair condition.


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.

Anonymous sale, London, Christie's South Kensington, 14 November 2002, lot 281, where acquired.

This small oil painting may be a preparatory study for Johann Martin Wagner's large-scale painting of 1807 (296 x 441 cm.), today in the Martin von Wagner Museum at the University of Würzburg.1 The subject is taken from Book X of the Iliad, and depicts the Greek soldiers waiting for Ulysses and Diomedes to come back from a nocturnal raid in the Trojan camp. Nestor, who suggested the raid, is the old man at the centre of the composition, while the two Greek kings Agamemnon and Menelaus, on the left side of the painting, are leaning towards him. In as early as 1804, Wagner had already sent a description of the painting in a letter to Goethe,2 whose influence was highly important and strongly felt throughout Wagner's career. 


The composition necessitated a long and elaborate preparation, and various preparatory drawings and single figure studies in the Martin von Wagner museum illustrate the complex genesis of the painting.3 The composition of the present work is very faithful to the final version, while another oil study of 1806, in the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt (57 x 47 cm),4 differs in the addition of a warrior leaning towards Nestor, as well as minor details in the poses of the other soldiers.


The choice of depicting a council and a moment of calm opposed to a battle scene was not uncommon for Wagner, as it provided him with the opportunity to focus his efforts on static figures in a classic and elevated style. This style was heavily influenced by Heinrich Friedrich Füger (director of the Vienna Academy at the time Wagner attended), and his close friend Eberhard Wächter.5


We are grateful to Maria Schabel M.A., from the Martin von Wagner Museum in Würzburg, for suggesting that the present work could be a study by the hand of Wagner.


1 https://www.ratdergriechen.uni-wuerzburg.de/painting.html. The painting will be the subject of a forthcoming publication: M. Schabel, 'Johann Martin Wagners Rat der Griechen vor Troja', in Studien zur Entstehungeschichte, Ikonographie und Antikenrezeption’, Würzburg 2020.

Letter from von Wagner to Goethe, 21 September 1804.

https://www.ratdergriechen.uni-wuerzburg.de/origin.html

A. Zerbst, 'Kunstgeschichtliche Anmerkungen zu Johann Martin Wagners Bericht über die Aeginetischen Bildwerke, 1817', in Schelling und die bildende Kunst, p. 261, reproduced fig. 6.

5 S. Kummer, 'Versuch über den Maler Martin von Wagner', in Johann Martin von Wagner. Künstler, Sammler und Mäzen, Würzburg 2008, p. 140.