Adolph von Menzel(1815 - 1905)
Karoline Arnold, spätere Freifrau Treusch von Buttlar-Brandenfels
Freiin Stephanie Treusch von Buttlar Brandenfels, Plathe a.d. Rega, Pommern.
Hugo von Tschudi, „Adolph von Menzel“ München, 1905, Nr 197, illustriert S.163.
Caroline Arnold spätere Freifrau Treusch von Buttler–Brandenfels, war die ältere Tochter des mit dem Künstler befreundeten Tapetenfabrikanten H J Arnold, der 1836 von Berlin nach Kassel übersiedelte. Menzel hatte Arnold 1833/34 beim Abendzeichnen kennengelernt. Es entstand eine enge Freundschaft, von der nicht zuletzt die Briefe Zeugnis ablegen, die Menzel ab 1836 an Arnold geschrieben hat. Menzel wohnte von August 1847 bis März 1848 in Kassel im Hause Arnolds, um einen Auftrag des Nassauischen Kunstvereins für einen Karton mit der Darstellung „Einzug der Herzogin Sophie von Brabant mit ihrem Söhnchen Heinrich in Marburg “ zu erfüllen. Während des Kasseler Aufenthaltes ist das Bildnis Karoline Arnold gezeichnet worden. (Tschudi Nr 197 abgebildet)
One of the great realist painters of the nineteenth century, Adolph von Menzel achieved even greater renown as a peerless draftsman, unequalled in his technical achievements and devotion to recording the environments and people of Berlin (an on his travels) in the second half of the nineteenth century. The French avant- garde especially admired Menzel’s drawings. Edgar Degas collected and copied them, and hailed Menzel as a great master. As Edmond Duranty, a champion of realism and the early impressionists declared, “Free, large, and rapid in his drawing, no draftsman is as definitive as he” (Cited in Michael Fried, Menzel’s Realism, 2002, p. 130). Nulla dies sine linea—no day without a line—was the motto of the largely self-taught artist, who began work as an assistant in his father’s lithographer shop, and soon became an important illustrator whose drawings were published in various print media. He briefly attended the Berlin Academy in 1833-34, but abandoned these studies and taught himself to paint. Throughout his career, Menzel prodigiously drew and sketched his observations in sketchbooks and on calling cards, theater programs, and odd scraps of paper. The ambidextrous artist may have preferred his left hand for drawing, and he famously had custom-sized pockets sewn into his coat to carry sketchbooks of different sizes wherever he went.
Francoise Forster-Hahn has described Menzel’s drawing practice as indispensable to his paintings, as he would not embark on a painting without having thoroughly studied the subject or general theme in drawings and sketches. “All drawing is useful, and so drawing is all, he was quoted as saying in an article of 1897 (Alles Zeichnen ist nützlich und alles Zeichnen auch! Cited in Françoise Forster-Hahn, “Authenticity into Ambivalence: The Evolution of Menzel’s Drawings,” in Master Drawings, Autumn 1978, pp. 256, 276). While drawing was key to Menzel’s activity as a painter, the formal development of his works in black and white took on a life of its own. In the 1840s he generally made precisely lined drawings with a sharp graphite pencil, while his later drawings, particularly after 1860, dispensed with contours , lines and edges, and employed a carpenter’s pencil to create velvety darks and suggestive, ‘impressionistic’ gradations of light and dark.
Our drawing is a view of the old buildings of a rear courtyard, whose abrupt angles and jumbled accretions create a striking perspective on a working-class environment. The work may be related to a group of paintings of courtyards and rear views of houses from the mid-late 1840s, which are among the artist’s earliest paintings. The best known of these is Rear Courtyard and House of 1844, (Nationalgalerie, Berlin), which was based on the view of “old buildings, outhouses, and dilapidated courtyards” that Menzel saw from the window of his studio at 4 Zimmerstrasse in Berlin (Claude Keisch, in Adolph Menzel, Between Romanticism and Impressionism, exh. cat., Washington, Paris, Berlin, 1996, p. 180). Menzel
pursued a similar subject after leaving that address in 1845, as seen in oil studies on paper from 1847 which depict a distant view of the backs of houses as they stretch across the cityscape (Oskar Reinhart Collection, Winterthur, and Nationalgalerie, Berlin). Like the present drawing, the oil studies organize the disparate surfaces and volumes of the buildings according to the rectangular grid and flat surface of the support. All the works emphasize the orientation (vertical in the drawing, horizontal in the oil sketches) of their elevated point of view, and imply a beholder in an interior who looks out from a window.
Discussions of Menzel’s working methods and concept of realism often turn on the artist’s fragmented views of the built and social environment around him. Our drawing exemplifies what Forster-Hahn has called “the artistic principle of cutting segments from his environment […] Unusual viewpoints, often angled from an elevated position, abruptly cut scenes in which a fragment stands for the whole, close-up views, subtle and daring effects of black and white characterize these striking images, reflecting at once the artist’s private life and his social sphere” (Forster-Hahn, op. cit., p. 270).
Dr. Hermann Albert Dietrirch Lenhartz (1854-1910; gift from the artist’s family); thence by descent; Sale, Lempertz, 12 May 2012
This vigorous portrayal of a priest carrying a monstrance is a study for Menzel’s important painting, Corpus Christi Procession at Hofgastein of 1880, now in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich. The drawing depicts the principal figure and liturgical crux of the Corpus Christi procession: the religious celebrant who solemnly holds the monstrance containing the consecrated host, which isunderstoodbyCatholicstobetheBodyofChrist,orCorpusChristi. As shown in the painting, the celebrant walks in the center of the sacred canopy or baldachin, as other clergy hold back his cope. In Catholic regions such as Austria, where the Hofgastein area is located, the mass of the Feast of the Eucharist (the Thursday after Trinity Sunday) was followed by an annual Corpus Christi procession throughout the town, with banner-bearing confraternities, officials and burghers accompanying the clerical celebrants and canopy, according to local custom.
The drawing exemplifies Menzel’s superb technique and invention as a draftsman. Against the detailed rendering of the figure that fills most of the sheet, Menzel freely juxtaposes a fragmented, ‘cropped’ study of clerical vestments at the upper left corner. He addresses the figure of the celebrant from behind, in a three-quarter’s view that encompasses the voluminous, patterned vestments, the head’s distinct physiognomy and reverent expression, and the monstrance itself, which emerges from brilliantly animated movements and different pressures of the hand. During his later years, Menzel favored a thick carpenter’s pencil that created deep, velvety darks, and he articulated his subjects through gradations of light and shadow and broad, energetic lines. Without sacrificing the precision and naturalism for which he was famous, Menzel’s brought his dynamic impressions of light and shadow to these later works in black and white.
In the 1870s, Menzel spent a great deal of time in Hofgastein, a spa region with famous baths. There he enjoyed the hospitality of his close friend, the Berlin banker Magnus Hermann, and was offered the gardener’s house and his own studio to lodge and work. He made frequent, extensive excursions
into the countryside and surrounding towns, where he studied and drew the landscape, built environment and local figures. Corpus Christi Procession at Hofgastein, reveals Menzel’s assiduous study of the region’s distinctive architectural forms— Irmgard Wirth identified the church in the painting as that of the town of Böckstein, in the Gastein Valley— while a contemporary critic recognized a wide range of social types in the mass of foreground spectators: “the Berlin student, the Austrian noble, or the pretentious Berliner […] (cited in Claude Keisch, et. al. , in Adolph Menzel, Between Romanticism and Impressionism, exh. cat., Washington, Paris, Berlin, 1996, p.407). The painting sharply contrasts the enthusiasm of the local participants in the procession and the piety of the kneeling peasants at the far right with the indifference of the well-dressed, urban tourists who crowd and characterize the foreground. For Menzel’s contemporaries, this disjuncture poignantly captured religious versus secular, and local versus cosmopolitan cultural conflicts in the modern world.
This drawing was a gift from Menzel’s family to Dr. Hermann Dietrich Lenhartz, a noted physician and hospital director in Hamburg and Eppendorf.