Monday, 26 September 2016

Adolph Menzel’s self-portrait lithograph


Adolph Menzel (aka Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel) (1815–1905)
“Selbstporträt ”(Self-portrait)
Lithograph signed by the artist in the plate (upper right) on heavy laid paper lined to a conservator’s sheet of fine washi paper.
Size: (sheet) 43.2 x 31.8 cm; (plate) 30.8 x 24.6 cm; (image borderline) 24.8 x 20 cm.
The Cornell University, Johnson Museum of Art offers a (brief) description of this print: http://emuseum.cornell.edu/view/objects/asitem/People@3808/0?t:state:flow=86bf1f39-3102-4efc-8f5f-c26fd169a8f0
Condition: crisp, faultless impression with generous margins. The sheet has a pencil notation, “Menzel” (upper right), there are small closed tears at the edges and there is a strong diagonal fold on the lower left outside of the image area that has been flattened on the support sheet of fine washi paper. Beyond these issues the sheet is in good condition (i.e. there are no significant stains, foxing, abrasions or holes).

I am selling this striking self-portrait by one of the major 19th century German artists for AU$179 in total (currently US$136.44/EUR121.52/GBP105.13 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. If you are interested in purchasing this important lithograph showing Menzel contemplating a small sculpture of a winged monster that he holds in his hand, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


In his lifetime, Menzel was one of the most famous artists in Germany, but after his death his fame subsided outside of Germany. Fortunately, his rightful claim to being one of the truly great German artists is once more confirmed and this self-portrait has all the “right” elements showcasing why Menzel is such an interesting artist; namely, his command of technical drawing skills, his ability to capture and sustain a viewer’s attention when looking at his artworks, and the complexly difficult capacity to project significant meanings. Regarding the latter notion of significant meanings, what makes this image memorable to me is the curious way that Menzel portrays his hands in a contemplative gesture as he engages in thinking about the small grotesque sculpture—a gothic winged gargoyle?—that he holds in his hand. For me, this gesture captures not only the artist’s mindset of layered thoughts—a rich mix of superficial amusement at the winged critter looking back at him and a more profound level of thinking about mortality and spiritual otherworldliness-—that I find myself also contemplating reflexively when looking at Menzel.

This is a wonderful print by an artist whose prints are seldom found on the marketplace.






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