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Sale: 293 / XXth Century Classics, May 12. 2005  
Lot: 19  
Stuck, Franz von 
Helena. 1909 
Result (incl. 15% surcharge): 90,850 EUR / 119,013 $
Estimate: 60,000 EUR / 78,600 $  
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Franz von Stuck

Franz von Stuck - Helena. 1909  

Helena. 1909
Bronze , with light patina shading slightly into green, base with brown patina
Inscribed at the plinth with 'Helena Franz von Stuck'. With the caster's stamp 'Priessmann-Bauer & Co München' on the reverse of the plinth. One of only a few casts. 69,7 x 17,5 x 10 cm ( 27,4 x 6,8 x 3,9 in), with base.
Cast from c. 1925 after a model from 1909. The final execution took place in 1925, the year the painting of the same name was created (Compare Voss no. 573/130 with a reference to the bronze sculpture).
Important, very rare work.

PROVENIENZ: Private collection Europe.
Barry Friedman Ltd.
Private collection California, USA.
Collection New York, USA (Corporate Collection).

Ausstellung: Aufbruch zur modernen Kunst. München 1869 - 1958, exhibition cat. Munich 1958, 979.
Franz von Stuck. Werk - Persönlichkeit - Wirkung, exhibition cat. Stuck Villa, Munich 1968, 5.
Franz von Stuck 1863 - 1928 Maler-Graphiker-Bildhauer-Architekt, exhibition cat. Stuck Villa, Munich 1982, 138 (ill.). Each time a different cast was shown.

LITERATUR: Deutsche Kunst. Issue XXVIII September 1925 (ill. p. 347).

Although the public at large is aware of the painter Franz von Stuck as the creator of spectacular paintings such as ‘Sünde’ [‘Sin’] and ‘Laster’ [‘Vice’], which stirred up a scandal in his day, his sculpture is a different thing altogether. Drawing primarily on Greco-Roman mythology for his themes, he was stylistically indebted to Adolf von Hildebrand, who introduced reduction of form and clarity of composition to Munich sculpture.
‘Helena’ is an important work of the artist, in the elongated proportions and beauty of line a Jugendstil piece, yet bereft of all cloying sweetness due to the astringency of form and composition. Stuck, who lived his life stagily as a ‘total work of art’ [Gesamtkunstwerk], eschewed genre distinctions in art. He formed the present figure in 1909 and picks up the subject in a painting of the same title in 1925. The young woman stands calmly and statuesquely in an alcove, presented to viewers yet withdrawn from them. In the bronze as well as in his painting, Stuck describes the classical beauty of the figure rather than the softness of skin, the sensuousness of hair. The garments, hairstyle and face refer to universal ideals of beauty yet the rather stylishly caught facial expression and the slight, arabesque-like curve in the pose represent a nod to the upcoming ideal.
‘Do not blame the Trojans and the Achaeans with their well-wrought greaves for having so long endured such wretchedness for such a woman! She is indeed like an immortal goddess,’ to paraphrase the Homeric Iliad. The quotation taken from it on the painting also applies to the present sculpture of Helena – a woman of intellect and beauty, a proud woman who demands adoration as her due. Still desirable but without a hint of sensuousness, let alone depravity.
Franz von Stuck did far fewer sculptures than paintings yet the sculpture he did do places him in the ranks of the leading painters who were also sculptors, including Courbet, Degas, Renoir and Klinger, most of whom modelled rather than sculpted. [KD]