Sale: 540 / Evening Sale, June 09. 2023 in Munich Lot 24


Otto Mueller
Mädchen auf dem Kanapee, 1914.
Glue-bound distemper on burlap laminated on canvas
€ 650,000 - 850,000

$ 715,000 - 935,000

Mädchen auf dem Kanapee. 1914.
Glue-bound distemper on burlap laminated on canvas.
Pirsig-Marshall / von Lüttichau G1914/05 (104). Monogrammed in lower right. 60 x 106 cm (23.6 x 41.7 in). [EH].

• To date no other painting by Otto Mueller of such a startling beauty and subtle eroticism has been offered on the international auction market.
• Otto Mueller depicts his wife Maschka in a self-confident and lascivious pose.
• In the fateful year 1914, the artist painted Maschka, who remained a close friend throughout his life.
• Painting in glue-bound distemper on burlap, Otto Mueller created works characterized by particularly progressive aesthetics.
• In terms of colors, perspective and image section, this painting appeals remarkably modern.
• For the first time shown at Otto Mueller's first grand solo show at Paul Cassirer's renowned Berlin gallery in 1919

PROVENANCE: Walter Klauser, no place (1919, presumably Dr. Walter Klauser, Zürich).
Friedrich Carl Siemens, Berlin (acquired in Berlin in the 1930s, family-owned until 1999).
European private collection (acquired from Sotheby's in 1999).

EXHIBITION: Otto Mueller Galerie Paul Cassirer, Berlin, Apr./May 1919, cat. no. 12
Otto Mueller, Eine Retrospektive, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung Munich / Museum Folkwang, Essen March 21 - June 22, 2003, cat. no. 176 (with color illu.).

LITERATURE: Ja! Stimmen des Arbeitsrates für Kunst in Berlin, Berlin 1919, cat. no. 5 (with illu.)
B. A. Aust, Otto Mueller, Eine Monographie in Bildern, Breslau 1925, p. 10, ill. (unpublished)
Sotheby's London, October 6, 1999, lot 121 (here: Reclining Girl)
Lüttichau/Pirsig, Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde und Zeichnungen (CD-ROM), Munich 2003/ Essen 2007/08.
".. I can only paint what I love."
Otto Mueller, quoted from: Emmy Mueller. Erinnerungen an Otto Mueller, Mitte der fünfziger Jahre, p. 28.

Called up: June 9, 2023 - ca. 17.46 h +/- 20 min.

". I can only paint what I love", Otto Mueller once confided in his sister Emmy. This sentence, taken literally, becomes comprehensible in many works by Otto Mueller, including the present one. The special way that Otto Mueller paints people is underlined by the fact that he preferred to portray people he was familiar with. Above all, his partners, such as his wife Maschka (Maria Meyerhofer), whom he met in Dresden in 1899 and who would be his most important model from the beginning on. Otto Mueller painted “his” Maschka, relaxed and lolling on a sofa in the Berlin studio with a slightly provocative, smiling look, her right, bare leg propped up, her head supported with her right arm.

Karl Scheffler, at times razor-sharp art critic and publicist, used the exhibition at Paul Cassirer as an opportunity to examine Otto Mueller thoroughly and to determine his qualities: "Above all, there is the painter's ability to directly utilize sensual impressions and to preserve the characteristic graceful beauty. This sensual experience can be felt everywhere; his style is permeated by nature. An element of the grotesque prevents the graceful from becoming sentimental. The conventional, to which this type of art always tends, encounters a notion of humane immediacy. And this immediacy grows stronger from year to year; a comparison of works from earlier years with recent works delivers impressive proof thereof." (in: Kunst und Künstler, No. 17, Berlin 1919, pp. 349-556).
Otto Mueller's "ability to make direct use of sensual impressions and to preserve the characteristics of graceful beauty" is perhaps also a key to how he reconciles what he saw with this direct close-up view, for example with the provocative painting "Nu bleu, souvenir de Biskra" by Henri Matisse from 1907. Seen in a comprehensive exhibition of works by the French artist at Galerie Paul Cassirer in January 1909, this nude wired itself into the minds of younger people and, years later, like here, was adopted by Otto Mueller. The painting is particularly important as the artist chose this work, painted as early as in 1914, for his first major solo exhibition at Paul Cassirer's famous gallery in Berlin in 1919. The catalog, probably published just in time for the exhibition in April 1919, mentions 37 paintings in chronological order from 1912 to 1919. According to the list, 17 of the 37 paintings were no longer available at the beginning of the exhibition: ten works were already “privately-owned”, among them the present “Mädchen auf dem Kanapee”. Four paintings were declared not for sale and three works were loans from the "Museum Essen". In addition to the 37 paintings, drawings and lithographs were also on display at Cassirer's exhibition; however, the catalog mentions them just briefly.

The purchasers of the illustrated catalog searched in vain for an appreciation of the person Otto Mueller, who had just received a call to the art academy in Breslau as the only former ‘Brücke’ artist. It merely included a short autobiography along with a characterization of his work. The entry reads as follows: “I was born in Liebau in Silesia on October 16, 1874. When I was 20, I came to the academy in Dresden, where I studied for 2 years. I spent the following years in the Giant Mountains up until ten years ago, when I moved to Berlin. - My main ambition is to express feelings of landscape and people with the greatest possible simplicity; The art of the ancient Egyptians was and still is my great model, also in terms of craftsmanship. Otto Mueller".

"Mädchen auf dem Kanapee" from 1914 was privately-owned in 1919"! In this case we, can only speculate as to who gave the work into the Cassirer exhibition. Some "Walter Klauser" is mentioned in the files, who made this sensitive and at the same time offensive portrait of Maschka available for the exhibition as a loan, however, he didn’t have Cassirer sell it. Perhaps it is the Walter Klauser from Zurich, who received his doctorate in 1916 with the study "Die Entwicklung der Raum-Auffassung beim Kind. Eine Untersuchung an Hand von Kinder-Zeichnungen" promoviert wird? (The development of children's perception of space. An investigation based on children's drawings)? It is not possible to determine exactly when this “reclined woman” came into the possession of the Berlin collector Friedrich Carl Siemens, whose family would keep it until 1999.

Compared to his contemporaries, Otto Mueller's persistent recourse to same subjects, as is the case here, makes the artist appear like an unworldly oddball. Paul Westheim, the Berlin art critic and collector, journalist and writer, once compared this sensitive narration of intimate and melancholic motifs with eavesdropping on “the state of being”. While Westheim describes the art of his friend elsewhere: "It is the art of nuance, which also needs to be felt with a certain degree of finesse." (Quoted from: Das Kunstblatt, issue 2, Potsdam 1918, pp. 129-141).

Otto Mueller's lack of comment on the zeitgeist – apart from the depictions of the life of Roma and Sinti in his oeuvre - the obvious negation of prosaicness, of private or social life, in short the lack of 'edges', always influenced the assessment and evaluation of his painting. In his foreword in the catalog of the solo exhibition at the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hanover in 1956, Werner Schmalenbach aptly described Otto Mueller's themes as "youthful dreaminess", as "the full passion of youth". "Within German Expressionism, his paintings rank less for their 'boldness' than for their quiet but haunting quality [. ] often of fascinating beauty; it has its value as a 'painting' rather than as an exaltation of expression.” (Werner Schmalenbach, Otto Mueller, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover 1956, p.3) To this day nothing has changed about this statement that encourages our view of Otto Mueller's work, especially nothing abou this wonderful style: Otto Mueller's painting is timeless! [MvL]

Otto Mueller
Mädchen auf dem Kanapee, 1914.
Glue-bound distemper on burlap laminated on canvas
€ 650,000 - 850,000

$ 715,000 - 935,000



Buyer's premium and taxation for Otto Mueller "Mädchen auf dem Kanapee"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation.

Differential taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 32 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 27 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 22 % and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer price up to 800,000 €: herefrom 27 % premium.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 800,000 € is subject to a premium of 21% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 800,000 €.
The share of the hammer price exceeding 4,000,000 € is subject to a premium of 15% and is added to the premium of the share of the hammer price up to 4,000,000 €.
The statutory VAT of currently 19 % is levied to the sum of hammer price and premium. As an exception, the reduced VAT of 7 % is added for printed books.

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.