Sale: 545 / Evening Sale, Dec. 08. 2023 in Munich Lot 50


Oskar Schlemmer
Sinnender, 1931.
Watercolor over pencil on mould-made paper
€ 180,000 - 240,000

$ 189,000 - 252,000

Sinnender. 1931.
Watercolor over pencil on mould-made paper.
Von Maur A 462. 55.2 x 40.9 cm (21.7 x 16.1 in), size of sheet. [JS].

• From the best creative period: Schlemmer's time in Wroclaw (1929–1932) is considered his heyday.
• "Sinnender" was created a year before Schlemmer's famous painting "Bauhaustreppe" (1932, Museum of Modern Art, New York).
• "Sinnender": Recourse to a motif that goes back to Dürer's "Melencolia I" in view of increasing political defamation.
• In 1930, Schlemmer's works were part of the XVII Venice Biennale. In 1931 he was represented at the grand retrospective exhibition “Modern German Painting and Sculpture” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
• Watercolors of this quality are extremely rare on the international auction market.
• From the Deutsche Bank Collection, Frankfurt a. M

PROVENANCE: Schlossmuseum Breslau, Municipal Art Collections (today Muzeum Miejskie Wroclawia, 1932 - September 27, 1937, with hand-written inventory entries on the reverse).
State-owned (confiscated from the above in context of the "Degenerate Art“ campaign on September 27, 1937, no. 7910).
Karl Stroeher, Darmstadt (around 1952).
Galerie Valentien, Stuttgart.
Richard Franke Collection, Murrhardt.
Andreas Franke, Bad Homburg.
Deutsche Bank Collection, Frankfurt (acquired from the above in 1989).

EXHIBITION: Hamburg/Berlin 1931, list without no. (cf. von Maur).
Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. Begegnungen mit einer Privatsammlung, Ravensburg 1970, no. 104 (no cat.).

LITERATURE: Karin von Maur, Oskar Schlemmer. Oeuvrekatalog der Gemälde, Aquarelle, Pastelle und Plastiken, vol. 2, Munich 1979, pp. 315-316, catalogue raisonné no. A 462 (fig.).
Hans Hildebrandt, Oskar Schlemmer, Munich 1952, p. 146, catalogue raisonné no. A 462.

Called up: December 8, 2023 - ca. 18.38 h +/- 20 min.

Schlemmer's "Sinnender" (Contemplator, 1931) is based on the painting of the same name from 1925, which was confiscated from the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart in 1937 by the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts for the exhibition "Degenerate Art" in Munich and has been considered lost ever since. The painting was probably the last one made before a three-year break during which Schlemmer considered giving up painting entirely in favor of stage work. Since 1925, the creator of the "Triadic Ballet" (1922), which quickly became world-famous due to its visionary progressiveness, was stage director at the Dessau Bauhaus. It was not until 1928 that Schlemmer began to make paintings in which he revisited his central theme of the figure in space. After he was appointed by the State Academy of Arts and Applied Arts in Breslau (today Wroclaw) in 1929, he reached a painterly quality in depicting light and shade. Our watercolor of the "Sinnender" is also characterized by this particularly gently lighting effect and the figure’s plasticity. The cut elbow creates a strong emphasis on the horizontal level, which determines, alongside the vertical level defined by the table’s leg and the diagonal level of the head and the upper body, the location of the contemplator in the image space. Schlemmer's painting thrives on this exciting approach to the figure, a stylistic device he implemented masterfully in the painting "Bauhaus Stairs" (Museum of Modern Art, New York), which he created a year later. In contrast to the "Bauhaus Stairs", Schlemmer's "Sinnender" is one of the rare examples in which the artist not only addresses his central theme of the figure in space, but also deals with the long art historical tradition of the "Thinker" motif. The Bauhaus artist Schlemmer found a completely new approach to this art-historically important iconography, that he took to the modern age, while it had its beginnings in Dürer's famous copperplate engraving "Melencolia I" (1514) and was continued by, among others, Rodin and his famous sculpture of the "Thinker". (1880/82). Dürer's highly complex depiction of "Melencolia I", who props up her head and gazes in contemplation, is considered an allegorical self-portrait of the artist and one of the first depictions of the artistic genius. A diary entry from 1928 shows that Schlemmer also attached particular importance to the motif of the "Sinnender". He noted that the today lost painting "Sinnender" was one of the four paintings that he would definitely not want to miss in an estate exhibition (cf. diary entry of January 18, 1928). The fact that Schlemmer took up this motif again in 1931 in our painterly, large-format watercolor and that he advanced its composition underlines the outstanding importance that this work has in Schlemmer's oeuvre. This melancholic motif, that emanates a notion of resignation, might have become meaningful for Schlemmer at the height of his creativity in view of the increasing defamation by the National Socialists in 1931. [JS]


Buyer's premium and taxation for Oskar Schlemmer "Sinnender"
This lot can only be purchased subject to regular taxation.

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.