Sale: 514 / Evening Sale, Dec. 11. 2020 in Munich Lot 221

 
221
Wilhelm Lehmbruck
Gebeugter weiblicher Torso, 1912/13.
Plaster, rose-dyed, white priming partly visibl...
Estimate:
€ 180,000 / $ 210,600
Sold:
€ 225,000 / $ 263.250

(incl. 25% surcharge)
Lot description
Gebeugter weiblicher Torso. 1912/13.
Plaster, rose-dyed, white priming partly visible, bordered in rose.
Schubert 78 A 7. With the name on the base. By the current state of knowledge a maximum of 6 copies exist. Including base: 92 cm (36.2 in).

• What a gracious gesture with which Lehmbruck stood his grounds in Paris against the leading sculptors of the early 20th century.
• With elongated facial features and physical shapes, as we find them in this "Gebeugter weiblicher Torso“, Lehmbruck conceived sculptures that clearly integrate Rodin’s aspect of the 'gesture’ in sculpting.
• Lehmbruck invents a sculpture that is particularly captivating for its nearly unprotected posture.
• Fascinating cast history and a great direct provenance with Galerie Flechtheim.
• Family-owned since it was acquired from Flechtheim 90 years ago.
• The work has not been on the market for 90 years
.

PROVENANCE: Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin/Düsseldorf (around 1930, with gallery label on the stand).
Erich and Ellen Raemisch, Krefeld (acquired from aforementioned in 1930).
Ever since family-owned.

EXHIBITION: Weihnachten 1931, Galerie Flechtheim, Berlin, December 13, 1931 to mid January 1932, no. 5.
Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Gerhard-Marcks-Haus, Bremen, February 6 - April 30, 2000; Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin, May 14 - August 13, 2000 et al, no. 15a.

"The 'Gebeugte weibliche Torso’ shows a form that does not reveal itself in frontal view but from an half left and right aslope angle of view.“
Dietrich Schubert

Essay
It undoubtedly is an unusual posture that Wilhelm Lehmbruck chose for this "Gebeugter Weiblicher” Torso (Bent Female Torso): the knees slightly bent and pinned in the base, the upper body tilted forward from the rigid waist with a gentle twist to the left, the shoulder with the shortened arms remain perpendicular for compensation, the head is slightly tilted and follows the turn of the upper body. What a graceful gesture with which Lehmbruck wanted to assert himself in Paris along the stars of early 19th century sculpting. When Lehmbruck left Düsseldorf to go to Paris in 1910, he met Rodin, Matisse, Archipenko, Brancusi and Modigliani, whose works had decisive influence on his path to the expressionist sculpture. While the first works that he created in Paris still show the three-dimensional volume of a Maillol, for example, Lehmbruck gradually found a solution to break free from the classical canon and take up the development towards a dematerialized, expressive form. With the elongated face and body shapes he attained there, as they become obvious in this “Bent Female Torso”, Lehmbruck develops sculptures that clearly take up Rodin's theme of 'gestures' in sculpting, a sculpting that more or less does without attributes and gets all the attention for the almost unprotected posture. Lehmbruck's quest for the perfect 'whole' of a torso is best described by who perhaps was one of Lehmbruck's most sensitive early admirers, the critic and collector Paul Westheim: “He kneads the work over and over again, he is obsessed with utmost perfection [..] He often undertakes the most daring [sic] experiments with the caster, cuts up the forms of a figure that has already been cast several times, removes a leg that seems too bulky for him, removes arms, possibly also the head, to create a torso with perfect proportions. "(Paul Westheim, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Berlin 1922, p. 11)
The “Gebeugter weiblicher Torso“ and its eventful history
Lehmbruck began developing this elegant and graceful torso in Paris as early as in 1912. In fact, the implementation of the stone mass into the cast is a complex process: The graceful body is literally part of a compact base that is cast at the same time in order to balance the forces of the leaning body. Following the invitation of the Deutsche Künstklerbund, Lehmbruck presented the “Gebeugter weiblicher Torso” for the first time at the annual exhibition of the Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim in September 1913 : “Nr. 465 Gebeugter weibl. Torso (Steinmasse)”is the entry in the catalog. In the same year Lehmbruck showed this sculpture in the Salon d’Automne at the Grand Palais (November 15, 1913 – January 5, 1914), the catalog entry reads: "Nr.: 1258 Petit torse de femme sc". The original form of the sculpture in "Steinmasse" (stone mass) was only shown in the two mentioned exhibitions in 1913 and 1914.
Since 1914, this female torso with the most daring posture in "stone mass", Lehmbruck's neutral designation, was not identified in exhibitions while the artist was still alive. Lehmbruck committed suicide in Berlin in March 1919; from then on his wife Anita Lehmbruck was in charge of her deceased husband’s estate. In 1921 two copies of the “Gebeugter weiblicher Torso“ in “stone mass” were made public nearly simultaneously: In April 1921 the Behnhaus in Lübeck received a copy from Anita Lehmbruck as an expression of gratitude as the director Georg Heise decided to acquire “Stehende Frauenfigur“ (Standing Female Figure, Schubert 51 / A4). Additionally, she let him pick another work (Schubert 78/2, confiscated in 1937, auctioned in Lucerne in 1939). On August 9, 1921, Heise confirmed the arrival of both sculptures in the Behnhaus. The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart also showed interest in the “Gebeugter weiblicher Torso“ and acquired the work on the local art market in 1921 (Schubert 78/1, confiscated in 1937, sold to a private collector through Galerie Ferdinand Möller in 1941). Well around ten years later another copy of this torso was up for sale: In 1930 the collector Erich Raemisch acquired the “Gebeugter weiblicher Torso“ offered here from Galerie Alfred Flechtheim gallery and lent it to the gallery on the occasion of Lehmbruck’s 50th birthday and the simultaneous “Christmas Exhibition” in December 1931 and January 1932: A selection of 17 sculptures by Lehmbruck was shown, including no. 5 a “Geneigter Frauentorso“ (Inclined Female Torso) on loan from a collector (Erich Raemisch; Schubert 78/7).
What do the three casts have to do with each other? First of all, they appear around the same time in a certain variety of forms. We have too little knowledge about the Lübeck torso, but today we can at least say that the Stuttgart torso and the - let's call it - Flechtheim / Raemisch torso - were cast with the same mold. They have many things in common, such as the corresponding processing of the base with a coarse claw chisel or other striking details that can be found all over the cast. And there is yet another distinct feature: Both casts have a hidden, barely discernible cast seam in the upper back area, which points to a molding of a “Gebeugter weiblicher Torso“ that existed at the time. But there are also clear differences between the Stuttgart torso and the Flechtheim / Raemisch torso. Lets start with the materiality of the casting compound: the Stuttgart torso consists of a surrogate of presumably rose-dyed plaster with fine brown sand; a fine grain can be found on the surface of the rather pink-beige cast. The Flechtheim / Raemisch torso, on the other hand, consists of a dense, rose-red colored plaster mass. Both casts have a rose-red surface primed with white oil paint and then given a rose-red frame.
As far as the age of the casts is concerned, today’s appearance has changed significantly on both works and we can just roughly estimate the casting date of the two related casts on basis of the time of their respective acquisition: Accordingly, the Stuttgart cast must have been made in 1921 or earlier, the Flechtheim / Raemisch torso in 1930 or earlier. And we have to act on the assumption that Anita Lehmbruck commissioned both casts. When Julius Meier-Graefe visited his studio in Paris in 1910/11, he noticed not only the new shape, the nudity that we encounter in classic materials such as plaster, stone (marble) and bronze, but also the young German sculptor's enthusiasm for experimentation, who also worked with terracotta, colored plaster and stone cast mixtures. He noticed different surfaces and color effects, described the fragmentation, a kind of ‘dismemberment’ with which Lehmbruck paved the way for his sculptures to transfer the appearance of classic 19th century sculpting into the modern age. “Variations,” says Meier-Graefe elsewhere “that familiarize the viewer with the mix of sizes and smoothness. He loved certain turns of the head and the hips to let the light play, and in doing so, he revealed further characteristics of his female type.” Frankfurter Zeitung on January 5, 1932. Printed in: Dietrich Schubert, Die Kunst Lehmbrucks, 2nd increased edition Dresden 1991, pp. 309ff.)
Provenance
In 1930 Erich Raemisch acquired the “Gebeugter weiblicher Torso“ from Flechtheim in context of the “Christmas Exhibition” in Berlin. To this day it has remained in possession of the family for 90 years. Erich Raemisch, well connected in the art scene, was the managing director of the Krefeld-based Association of German Silk Weaving Mills and became a board member of Rheinische Kunstseide AG Krefeld in 1923. [MvL]
221
Wilhelm Lehmbruck
Gebeugter weiblicher Torso, 1912/13.
Plaster, rose-dyed, white priming partly visibl...
Estimate:
€ 180,000 / $ 210,600
Sold:
€ 225,000 / $ 263.250

(incl. 25% surcharge)