This intimate, evocative interior view belongs to a group of five paintings in which Menzel studied the effects of light in simply furnished spaces he occupied in Berlin between 1845 and 1851. They are entirely characteristic of his unwavering eye for quotidian detail, yet the artist considered such works experiments and he never exhibited them. Instead, his fame rested on historicizing costume pieces and trenchant scenes of contemporary life in the German capital.
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Credit Line:Purchase, Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary Funds, Leonora Brenauer Bequest, in memory of her father, Joseph B. Brenauer, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, and Paul L. and Marlene A. Herring and John D. Herring Gift, 2009
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): A.M. / 51
the artist, Berlin (until d. 1905); private collection, Hanover; private collection, Germany (in 1920); Nicolai, Berlin; von Kreibig, Lugano (until about 1941–42; sold to Nathan); [Fritz Nathan, St. Gallen, Switzerland; 1941/42–47; sold on January 20, 1947 to Bührle]; Emil Georg Bührle, Zürich (1947–at least 1955); private collection, Zürich (until 2009; sold through John & Paul Herring & Co., New York, to The Met)
Berlin. Museum Dahlem. "Ausstellung Adolph von Menzel aus anlass seines 50. Todestages," May–June 1955, no. 50 (as "Das Wohnzimmer des Künstlers," lent by E. Bührle, Zürich).
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "Menzel (1815–1905): 'la névrose du vrai'," April 15–July 28, 1996, no. 60.
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Adolph Menzel, 1815–1905: Between Romanticism and Impressionism," September 15, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 60 (as "The Artist's Room in Ritterstrasse," lent by a private collection, Switzerland).
Berlin. Nationalgalerie im Alten Museum. "Adolph Menzel, 1815–1905: Das Labyrinth der Wirklichkeit," February 7–May 11, 1997, no. 60.
Munich. Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung. "Adolph Menzel. radikal real," May 16–August 31, 2008, no. 30 (lent by a private collection, Switzerland).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century," April 5–July 4, 2011, no. 23.
G[uido]. J[osef]. Kern. "Ein neuer Menzel." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 31 (1920), p. 132 (ill.), calls it "Wohnzimmer des Künstlers in der Ritterstrasse"; states that this previously unknown work passed from the artist's estate to a Hannoverian collection as a "glücklicher Zufall" [happy accident] and locates it in a private collection; observes that the small size and awkward proportions of the room were probably the result of its having been apportioned from a larger room.
P[aul]. O[tto]. Rave. Ausstellung Adolph von Menzel aus anlass seines 50. Todestages. Exh. cat., Museum Dahlem. Berlin, 1955, pp. 34–35, no. 50, suggests that this is the room adjacent to the bedroom Menzel depicted in a painting of 1847 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin).
Irmgard Wirth. Mit Adolph Menzel in Berlin. Munich, 1965, pl. 20.
Claude Keisch inAdolph Menzel, 1815–1905: Between Romanticism and Impressionism. Ed. Claude Keisch and Marie Ursula Riemann-Reyher. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. New Haven, 1996, pp. 250–52, no. 60, ill. (color) [French ed., Paris, 1996; German ed., Berlin, 1997], states that the artist executed five paintings of more or less empty rooms between 1845 and 1851, the present work being the last; notes that this room is likely, but not definitely, Menzel's, observing that the artist's only interest here is "the intangible charm of the atmosphere"; describes the technique.
Bernhard Maaz inAdolph Menzel. radikal real. Ed. Bernhard Maaz. Exh. cat., Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung. Munich, 2008, p. 62, no. 30, ill. (color).
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2008–2010." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 68 (Fall 2010), p. 50, ill. (color).
Sabine Rewald. Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2011, pp. 18–19, 66, 68, 70–74, no. 23, ill. (color), suggests that this room may have been a study adjacent to the sitting room.
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