View full screen - View 1 of Lot 45. Salomé mit dem Haupt des Johannes (Salomé with the Head of John) .
45

Oskar Kokoschka

Salomé mit dem Haupt des Johannes (Salomé with the Head of John)

Oskar Kokoschka

Oskar Kokoschka

Salomé mit dem Haupt des Johannes (Salomé with the Head of John)

Salomé mit dem Haupt des Johannes (Salomé with the Head of John)

This lot has been withdrawn

Oskar Kokoschka

1886 - 1980

Salomé mit dem Haupt des Johannes (Salomé with the Head of John)

signed OK (center left)

watercolour, tempera, gold paint and pencil on paper

30.2 by 40 cm., 11¾ by 15½ in.

Framed: 60.5 by 79 cm., 23¾ by 31 in.

Executed in 1906.

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Collection Richard Lanyi, Vienna (by whom sold in a charity auction of book illustrations held in Vienna sometime after 1912, the exact sale-date being unknown)

Frank McDonald, New South Wales

Sale: Sotheby's London, 29th June 1994, lot 188

Private Collection, Austria

Sale: im Kinsky, Vienna, 30th November 2018, lot 484

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Heinz Spielmann, Oskar Kokoschka. Das Frühwerk. in: Kunst Chronik, 47 year, issue 8, Nuremberg, 1994, no. 7b, illustrated p. 420

Oskar Kokoschka. Dreaming Boy - Enfant terrible (exhibition catalogue), Stenersen Museum, Oslo; Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki, 1996-1997, no. 7

Alfred Weidinger (diss.), Oskar Kokoschka. Träumender Knabe und Enfant Terrible 1897/98 bis 1910, Salzburg, 1997, p. 20f., ill. 39 and p. 22f., ill. 42 (Nude study of Salome in pencil)

Oskar Kokoschka, Watercolours and Drawings, Nordic Watercolor Museum, Island of Tjörn, Sweden, 2006, no. 3, illustrated p. 51

Alfred Weidinger, Alice Strobl, Oskar Kokoschka, Die Zeichnungen und Aquarelle 1897-1916, Salzburg, 2008, no. 76 and 77 (pencil sketch verso), illustrated p. 39

Agnes Husslein-Arco and Alfred Weidinger (ed.), Oskar Kokoschka. Träumender Knabe - Enfant terrible, 1906-1922, catalogue Belvedere, Vienna 2008, cat. 2, ill. p. 13

Vienna, Albertina, Oskar Kokoschka. Das Frühwerk, 1994, p. 11f, no. 15, illustrated in colour

Executed in 1906, this watercolour is a rare example of Oskar Kokoschka’s early works which he produced during his studies at the School of Applied Arts in Vienna. Kokoschka’s works produced until 1909, are best seen in the context of Jugendstil, a symbolist style similar to art nouveau which is associated to the artists of the Vienna Succession, including Gustav Klimt. Artists of the Jugendstil movement strived for an integration of art into the everyday life, art and craft should form a unity. The craft should be functional and additionally have the aesthetics of a work of art. This present work is representative of this movement with its decorative flowing lines and geometric shapes as well as making use of symbolic figures and floral ornaments. A beautiful execution showing his superb draftsmanship, the elegance in details and placement of lines as well as the use of the elementary colours red, blue and green highlighted along the ornamental border through gold paint.

 

It is thought that this present work relates to the book illustrations of “Die träumenden Knaben” (“The Dreaming Boys”) which Kokoschka started working on in that year. The “Dreaming Boys” contains a prologue and seven dreams; the color-intensive lithographs mark the transition from Art Nouveau to Expressionism. The book is considered the beginning of Expressionism in Vienna and its illustrations are regarded today as some of the most important of the 20th Century.

 

During Kokoschka’s time at the School of Applied Arts he became an associate of the Wiener Werkstätte, modernist workshops that were run by the architect Josef Hoffmann. The British Arts and Crafts Movement served as their model; thus, the aim was to renew the concept of art in the field of applied arts.

 

In this present work, Kokoschka transposed the biblical scene of the death of John the Baptist into his own time. It is an action picture that shows Salome with the head of the executioner after the beheading. It stands in contrast with the single depiction of Salome with the head of Judas that Gustav Klimt chose for his work Judith II (Salome) (Fig.1). In both works the nude woman is not comparable to a typical representation of the religious figure Salome but rather resembles a femme fatale as the repertoire of Salome-motifs varies in all areas of reception and is subject to change over time.