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Full text of "Drawings of A. von Menzel"

BOUGHT WITH THE INCOME 
FROM THE 

SAGE ENDOWMENT FUND 

THE GIFT OF 

Mcnrg W. Sage 

^,.x55"d.oA •a-\.\NTr\.\\-. 



Cornell University Library 
NC 251.M55A4 



Drawings of A. von Menzel. 






3 1924 020 534 875 




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Cornell University 
Library 



The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



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DRAWINGS OF A. VON MENZEL 



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PLATE I 



FRONTISPIECE 




A WOMAN WITH A SHAWL AROUND HER HEAD 



DR/WINGS OF 

A VON MENZEL 




LONDON. GEORGE NEWNES LIMITED 
SOUTHAMPTON STREET. STRANDw.c 
NEW YORK .CHARLES SCRIBNEKS SONS 



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LONDON : 

PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED. 

DUKE STREET, STAMFORD STREET, S.E., AND GREAT WINDMILL STREET, W. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



HER 

. Frontispiece 



A WOMAN WITH A SHAWL AROUND 
HEAD 

TITLE PAGE FOR AN ALBUM . 

CAFE, WITH CHESS PLAYERS . 

A CHILD WITH HANDS FOLDED . 

THREE MEN DISPUTING .... 

IN CHURCH 

CHILDREN SLEEPING 

A CHILD FALLEN ASLEEP 

STUDIES OF ARMOUR .... 

LADY SITTING BY A PIANO 

PORTRAIT OF A MAN .... 

COSTUME STUDIES 

CHILDREN BLINDFOLDED 

TWO MEN AND A LADY .... 

HELMETS 

INTERIOR OF A HOUSE AT SALZBURG . 

LADY IN AN ARM CHAIR 

HALL IN THE LEOPOLDSKRON-PALACE 

SALZBURG 

YOUNG WOMAN SEATED .... 

THE MONASTERY AT MELK ON THE DANUBE 
COUNT MOLTKE'S FIELD-GLASSES 
OLD LADY IN A HIGH-BACKED CHAIR . 
WINDOWS IN AN i8th CENTURY HOUSE 
IMAGINARY SCENE IN MENZEL'S STUDIO, AFTER 

HIS DEATH 

THE BROLETTO AT BRESCIA . 



PLATE 



AT 



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1 

3 
4 

5 
6 

7 
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9 

lO 

II 

12 

13 
14 

15 
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19 
20 

21 

22 

24 

25 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS— con/mwerf 



GROUP FROM THE PARTHENON SCULPTURES 

CHATEAU IN A PARK 

STUDIES OF A GIRL IN A HAT 

A MAN DRAWING A CART .... 

A HOODED FALCON 

A MAN'S HEAD 

HEAD OF AN EAGLE 

A SLEEPING LION'S HEAD .... 

A GIRL WITH PAPER BAGS .... 

A DROMEDARY'S HEAD 

AN i8th century ARM CHAIR 

OLD LADY IN A CAP ..... 

THE CHURCH BELL 

A NEPTUNE FOUNTAIN IN THE PALACE COURT- 
YARD AT MERSEBURG .... 

STUDIES FOR A BOY CRYING 

TOP OF THE PULPIT IN THE CATHEDRAL AT 
WURZBURG 

TOMBSTONE OF A BISHOP IN THE CATHEDRAL 
AT WURZBURG 

INTERIOR OF A CHURCH AT WURZBURG . 

LOFT IN THE ALL SAINTS' CHAPEL AT RATISBON 

THE TURRETS OF THE CHAPEL AT WURZBURG 

STUDIES OF A MAN'S BACK, A WOMAN'S HAND, Etc. 

STUDIES OF TWO HEADS . . 

TWO LADIES AND A GENTLEMAN 



PLATE 

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27 

28 
29 

30 
31 

3a 

33 
34 
3S 
36 
31 
38 

39 
40 

41 

42 

43 

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46 

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48 



VI 




THE DRAWINGS OF 
ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

BY Prof. H. W. SINGER 



OR two or three decades Menzel was a member of the 
Institut de France and an Officer of the Legion of 
Honour, as well as a member of the Royal Society 
of Painters in Water Colours and the Royal Academy 
of London. Yet, outside his own country, he was 
scarcely more than a name, except, perhaps, to the 
presidents and leading officers of such bodies as I have mentioned. 
Not long ago I found a French critic attempting to expound Menzel 
to his countrymen, and he had so far misapprehended his hero that 
he tried to make him out a sort of excellent German Meissonier. In 
England, too, he may be put on a line with the League of Cambrai, 
the Peace of Munster, the Cabal, and other such names, which you at 
once recognise as very important when you hear them mentioned, but 
about which you cannot for the life of you remember details and dates. 
Almost ninety years ago, upon the 8th of December, 1815, 
Menzel saw the light of day in Breslau. This city was for a long 
time the third largest of the German Empire, without any attractions 
to match its size. 

Menzel's father, originally principal of a girls' seminary, set up a 
lithographic establishment, in which the lad at an early age found an 
opportunity of coming into touch with the fine arts. His parents 
decreed that he should become a scholar, but there were many 
hindrances in the way of his turning student; and since he had 
evinced a desire to draw as soon as ever he could hold a pencil, it was 
easy to prepare him for the work of a practitioner in the lesser arts, 
if not indeed for an artist. 

When Menzel was fourteen years of age his father sold his business 
at Breslau and migrated to Berlin. Here, too, he occupied himself 
with lithographic work, in which he was assisted by his son. The 
family had scarcely been a year and a half in the capital when the 
father died — in January, 1832. Menzel, only sixteen years of age. 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

was now thrown entirely upon his own resources, and, moreover, had 
to help towards the support of his nearest relatives. For the sake of a 
living he executed vignettes for tradesmen's bills, letter-headings, designs 
for stencils, bottle-labels and similar hack-work, and a long period of 
privation and plodding began for him. 

What he did at that time gave indication of what there was in the 
man. For where another would simply have satisfied the crude demands 
of the trade, he strove conscientiously to do his best and to give his 
customers more than their money's worth. Many of his early invi- 
tation and congratulatory cards, title pages and ephemeral designs are 
full of happy notions and clever allusions. Instinctively he felt that 
black-and-white art is a medium that lends itself to argument and 
discussion, and he did not miss his opportunity of communicating to an 
outer world what was in his own mind. 

What he suffered at the time went far towards giving his character 
that bias which made him famous as a man. For him it was a period 
of what to anybody else would have seemed joyless drudgery. But it 
awoke no revolutionary sentiments or even feelings of dissatisfaction in 
him. It was then that he laid the foundation of that spirit which was 
best incorporated in the motto to which he remained true unto the very 
last day of his long life : nulla dies sine linea. Many decades later, 
when Menzel was accepted as the first artist of his country, young men 
occasionally applied to him for encouragement and advice — he always 
had a weakness for whoever considered him the model for the younger 
generation. Among these correspondents Otto Greiner — now, too, an 
artist of well-known standing — bewailed the loss of time that young 
men suffer while doing " pot-boilers " and " sweet pretty-pretty " 
work for the sake of keeping body and soul together, whereas, had fate 
been a little more kind, they might have devoted all their energies to 
that which is highest and best in art. Menzel's sober and impressive 
reply culminates in the monition : " Young man, there is no such thing 
as a ' pot-boiler,' there is no such thing as loss of time." He wrote : 
" But there is still another matter which seems to trouble you, and 
which is spared nobody unless he happens to have come into the world 
swaddled in bank-notes. This thing has many names, and a different 
one in every new place. I note with you it is styled ' sweet, pretty- 
pretty stuff' ; the world in general calls it the bitter herb 'must ! ' or 
' the dire battle of life.' .... There have been people, you know, 
who to-day count for something, and who, when they were young 
and helpless, had to put up with decidedly worse offers than this one 
you speak of. Yet everything had to be gulped down, nay, had to be 
cheerfully turned into an opportunity of practice, of progressing. Here 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

there is no other possible way but to accept once for all everything as 
a genuine artistic problem. You will then cease at once to consider 
anything unworthy of your powers ; even the 'pretty-pretty stuff' will 
wax interesting, instructive, and even difficult. There is not much 
room in life for the negatory spirit of our youngsters. Your everyday 
surroundings should be studied best and most thoroughly. Those are 
the lines on which Art in former times proceeded to glory. Our old 
masters were narrowed down to the home circle a good deal more 
closely than we." 

Many a man has had to suffer much during his youth, and yet had 
not wit enough to acquire such sage views of life's problems. But it is 
equally clear that Menzel would never have come by them had not 
fate treated him so harshly at the beginning. 

Menzel's first stroke of good luck came in the shape of an offer to 
do up, or rather, do afresh, a set of lithographs illustrating the life of 
Luther. The publisher was sufficiently well satisfied with his work to 
accept in the following year a set of original lithographic designs by 
Menzel for publication. They were styled Kiins tier's Erdenivallen^ 
which may be rendered in English, 'The artisfs worldly pilgrimage, 
or perhaps The artisfs purgatory. It retells, in eleven pictures, the 
old story of Genius, all but extinguished in infancy, trampled upon 
during youth, wildly idealistic, at the same time neglected and scoffed 
at during manhood, and finally lauded above the skies — after death. 
There is a good deal of bathos in such a programme, and yet it is 
remarkable how straightforward and simple the story is as presented 
by this lad of eighteen years. Those were the days when Germany 
was in a state of great poverty and still suffered from the effects of 
the Napoleonic wars. What was lacking in the way of comfort and 
the smiles of fortune was made up for by a slightly strained loftiness 
of purpose and exaltation of principle. We may presume that at that 
time an artist would have been downright ashamed of prosperity. 
This should be borne in mind when trying to estimate Menzel's 
album. It will then appear to be rather a simple statement, no 
more, and especially not the reproachful wail for which we would be 
inclined to regard it at the present time. The drawings received 
much attention, and were even distinguished by the express appro- 
bation of Schadow, then the veteran and accepted leader among 
Berlin artists. 

There is no text ; each one of the pictures has a simple title. Germ, 
Trend, Compulsion, Freedom, Schooling, Trials and Tribulations, 
Love, Castles in the Air, Reality, The End, Posthumous Fame. 
Each design, however, is supplemented by a little vignette below, 

3 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

and this embodies the author's comment upon the situation. In 
Germ an urchin, three or four years old, is about to be beaten for 
having decorated the floor with the first fruits of his inventive hand. 
The vignette below discovers a butterfly barely escaped from the 
chrysalis and already beset by the dangers of the net. Hardly does 
genius unfold its wings before it is straightway threatened with 
destruction. Again, in Reality the artist is at work upon the portrait 
of an ugly old woman, while her husband lords it over him and 
insists upon having the picture painted the way he wants it, since he 
is going to pay for it. Through an open door we see the artist's 
wife with her two children — constituting the dira necessitas for him. 
The vignette below shows us an old hag trimming a swan's wings. 
Perhaps the bird of beautiful song would soon be ready to depart on 
its last glorious flight, but Reality intervenes and clips its wings 
before it can mount. 

Thus, this juvenile effbrt displays the same spirit as the work 
upon which Menzel's fame in later days principally rested. Whether 
he illustrated his own or another's story, he embodies in various 
ways his own philosophical comments upon the situation depicted. 
Sometimes, as here, it accompanies the illustration, at others it is 
encased, as it were, within the illustration itself. 

Menzel now attended the Academy schools, but only for a very 
short time. His reputation soon spread, and he received many further 
orders for lithographic work, while, in addition, he taught himself the 
technique of oil-painting. 

The year 1839 represents a turning-point in Menzel's career. Mr, 
Weber, a publisher in Leipsic, decided in that year to issue a volume 
dealing with the life of Frederick the Great. He engaged Franz 
Kugler to write the text, and Kugler recommended Menzel as the 
artist most fit to design the illustrations. Menzel accepted the offer; he 
was still under age, and the agreement had to be signed by his 
guardian. In the month of March he began the study and pursuit of 
the one great subject which was to occupy his thoughts throughout the 
greater half of his career — " The Life and Times of Frederick the 
Second, King of Prussia." 

He hunted up all the portraits of his hero that he could lay hands 
on, and drew from them until he knew Frederick's features and figure 
by heart, so that he could almost draw them in the dark. He did the 
same with the principal men and women at Frederick's court. He 
then studied the uniforms, arms, costumes and decorations of those 
days in the same singularly conscientious and painstaking manner. 
Finally, he drew all the historic localities, the rooms, houses, palaces, 
4 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

the furniture and articles of use of the period, still to be found in 
them or in the museums. There are hundreds and hundreds of 
sketches of this kind, showing his gradual progress in acquiring a 
complete knowledge of every detail pertaining to the times of 
Frederick. 

This first book, Kugler's " Frederick the Great," was completed 
long before Menzel's studies were at an end, of course, and it does not 
embody the final fruits of his researches. It contains 378 woodcuts, 
and we note how the woodcutters and the designer mutually trained 
one another to finer work as the book proceeded. Menzel gradually 
learned what effects could best be produced by means of woodcuts, 
while his assistants, on the other hand, learned, from block to block, 
how better to follow up the artist's ideas and intentions. 

From many points of view the Kugler volume was for the artist 
no more than a study itself. He profited by the experiences with 
which it furnished him when he undertook to do the two hundred 
illustrations for the edition de luxe of Frederick II.'s own writings. 
This set of woodcuts is far superior to those of the Kugler volume. 
It represents, after all, perhaps the firmest pillar upon which Menzel's 
fame will rest. From the standpoint of pure draughtsmanship these 
designs have never been surpassed. The woodcutters who transferred 
them upon the block attained to the very height of excellence in 
facsimile woodcut. The pictures are especially interesting, inasmuch 
as they contain Menzel's own strictures upon the times. For they 
are not mere prosy illustrations of corresponding passages in the 
text. One of them is a portrait of the Marquise de Pompadour, 
accompanying Frederick's satirical imaginary epistle of this personage 
to the King of Hungary. Menzel renders captivatingly in line a 
well-known portrait of the lady and encases it in a beautifully 
carved frame, the different figures and ornaments of which constitute 
severely critical mementoes of her career and character. He includes 
among them a repetition of the Due d'Orleans' famous '"'• petit s pieds^'' 
well known to collectors of French illustrated books of the eighteenth 
century. The vignette accompanying Frederick's letter to De la Motte 
Fouque, in which ancient Art is compared with modern French, is not 
at all done in the spirit of the text. For Menzel represents a cavalier 
of the time comparing two pieces of sculpture, a noble ancient torso 
with a French affected and inflated Cleopatra ; and the artist does not 
leave us in doubt as to his own verdict. In illustrating the correspond- 
ence between Frederick and his brother, Prince Henry, Menzel places 
before us the picture of Hercules and lolas fighting the Hydra, thus 
apostrophising the united efforts of the two brothers to overcome 

S 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

their many-headed enemy, who continually manages to renew his 
strength. The vignette accompanying the close of the story of the 
first Silesian War shows a powerful hand wiping the blood off a 
sword with a wreath of laurels. Upon another occasion Menzel 
represents a wary and dangerous lion circling about an unwieldy 
elephant. It is the small but active kingdom of Prussia keeping the 
huge, sluggish Austrian Empire at bay. The final vignette (printed 
on the title page in the edition of 1882) shows a pair of compasses 
spread apart to cover just ten centimetres and squeezing a little genie. 
The compasses are gifted with a face which grins down relentlessly 
at the genie's anger at being cramped in so close a space, which 
forbids it unfolding its wings. In this drawing Menzel playfully 
alludes to the difficulty of keeping all these illustrations within the 
set compass of ten centimetres square. 

Several other publications followed this work upon the life and 
times of Frederick the Great. The " Soldaten Friedrichs des Grossen " 
contains 31 full-page woodcuts; "Aus Konig Friedrichs Zeit" contains 
12 marvellous large portrait-woodcuts of the King's most famous 
generals. The most important of all is "The Army of Frederick the 
Great, including as it does no less than 436 pen-lithographs. Only 
thirty copies of this precious volume are in existence, and it is one of 
the most perfect solutions of an iconographical task that we possess. 
Menzel depicts the uniforms, weapons and accoutrements of almost 
every regiment, describing all variations in buttons, trimmings, etc., of 
the privates as well as of the officers. He carefully illuminated one 
copy himself: the other 29 were done from this by another hand. 

Two things seem almost incomprehensible in connection with this 
publication. One is, how an artist of such powers and of such lively 
intellect could have had the patience to complete the task — for it took 
him years to do it. The other is, how he could have infused so much 
artistic life into it, since it was to be little more than an inventory of 
facts. Many of the soldiers in T'he Army of Frederick the Great are 
superbly drawn ; the way they stand and sit, the naturalness of their 
demeanour, is beyond all praise. They are not modern models dressed 
in clothes of a bygone age. They look in face and figure and they act 
like the people for whom those uniforms were meant. 

It was not to be expected that Menzel would rest satisfied with 
embodying his supreme knowledge of the life and times of his one 
hero in woodcuts and lithographs, be they ever so important. During 
the longer half of his life, black and white art was looked upon as an 
inferior matter, and by the time that this ceased to be the case, Menzel 
had virtually given up this branch of the fine arts. It was natural that 
6 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

his ambition was to be the painter of Frederick the Great, not only the 
illustrator ^i3r excellence of his times. 

His first essays in this line, I'he Dinner-Party at Sanssouci ivith 
Voltaire and I'he Flute Concert at Rheinsberg, have made him popular, 
though they did not in any way prepare the way for the official Court 
position which at the time he fondly hoped to attain. He then painted 
two big historical pictures, one commemorating Frederick the Great's 
greatest victory at Leuthen, the other his worst reverse at Hochkirch. 
This latter picture actually found its way into the Royal Castle, but 
met with so little appreciation there that it was hung in one of the 
offices, for the delectation of the lackeys. The fate of this picture deeply 
chagrined Menzel. Much about the same time he found that the large 
historical cartoon which he had drawn for the Kunstverein at Cassel 
representing the Entrance of the Duchess Sophia with her three-year- 
old son into Marburg^ had been skied in a dark library. These circum- 
stances thoroughly disheartened and disgusted him. He felt that he 
was wasting labours of love upon a Boeotian age. A few further 
historical pictures like 'The Meeting of Frederick ivith the Emperor 
Joseph II. at Neisse lacked all spirit, and the big Leuthen picture was 
left unfinished until his dying day. It remained in his studio, with a 
blank in place of the principal figure, as a lasting memento of his foiled 
aspirations. 

When in the end other work had spread his fame, and the Prussian 
Court officially recognized his claim as an historical painter by com- 
missioning him to paint the coronation of King William I. at Konigsberg 
in 1 86 1, his wings had been clipped — ^as he himself put it, in his early 
days — and the product was scarcely anything but a very large coloured 
illustration of the event, not really a painting upon a purely artistic basis. 
Since Menzel's death, several people who had much intercourse 
with him during the last years of his life have recounted stories in 
which the master is represented as having disavowed his ambitions, and 
even as having spoken disparagingly of his historical pictures dealing 
with the life of Frederick the Great. It is very difficult to believe 
such stories as these. To begin with, it was not characteristic of 
Menzel to disapprove of anything that he had ever done. He was a 
true artist in that, for all his life work was based upon the firmest kind 
of faith in himself. It goes without saying that he had scarcely a 
word of praise for anybody's work but his own. The reader will be 
surprised to learn, for example, that he even decried Diirer as a poor 
and unsatisfactory artist. Hasty judges consider this bearing as a sign 
of narrow-mindedness in an artist. But it should not be looked upon 
in this light. Production of all kinds is a work of faith, and the 

7 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

greater the artist the more exclusive, the more self-confident he must 
be. He may have many obliging phrases of easy praise at hand for 
the work of a confrere, but if he really at heart thought it good 
he would be placed in an impossible situation. For, if an artist felt 
that a man who is working on totally different lines from his own 
were right, he would practically confess that he himself was wrong. 
He would, in a word, have to give up working. For he could 
not stoop to turn copyist; neither could he, with a clear conscience, 
continue on paths that he had recognised as being wrong. Many 
weaker minds are actually placed in this predicament. A few among 
them give up the fight ; what the remainder produce thenceforth has 
no serious claims upon our attention. The great artists are not 
subjected to such doubts and fears; they are esoteric and secluded. 
Each one of them furnishes repeated proof of the fact that the power 
of production debars one from possessing the powers of criticism. 

To return to Menzel, if he actually has been guilty of such 
apostasy as is reported, it must have been an act of self-delusion. It 
may have been that he was, in a way, making a kind of virtue of 
necessity. At any rate, this development, if it came indeed, was late 
in coming. In a letter written in the year 1882, some sixteen years 
after these disappointments befel him, he scoffs at the idea of having 
lost faith in his own work. The letter was addressed to the author of 
a dictionary of artists, and it is a very curious epistle, written more in 
the style of a man of red-tape propensities than of an artist. The 
syntax is peculiarly involved, and the whole very wordy ; it is difficult 
to reproduce this in the translation. It contains this interesting 
passage : — 

" With reference to my cartoon Entrance of the Duchess Sophia 
•with her three-year-old son into Marburg (drawn at Cassel, August, 
1 847- February, 1 848), the facts are that I bought it back from the 
proprietors who had ordered it, namely, the Hessian Art Union. 
/ marvel hoia the fable that I had disavowed it could ever have 
arisen ! The truth is, I saw the cartoon again at that place eighteen 
years later (September, 1866), and in consequence of the absence of any 
suitable locality it had been hung high up on the walls of the principal 
Hall in the State Library, where it was covered with dust and quite in 
the dark. The attempt to liberate my child from these surroundings 
proved successful without imposing too great a strain upon my purse, 
and so it has hung ever since on a wall in my rooms in just the same 
light as the one in which I drew it." 

It is curious to note what directions Menzel's genius took when 
once deflected from its original course. One of his biographers 
8 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

remarks that a casual observer must come to the conclusion that 
henceforth Menzel was an upholder of every new " movement " as 
soon as it put in an appearance. He has painted plein-air pictures, he 
has done impressionistic work, there are " realistic " paintings by his 
hand, and there is work of the kind that the recent Spanish-Italian 
school delighted in. It looks as if he had intended to show that he 
was up to any trick that came along, and as soon as ever he had 
proved, to his own conviction, at least, that he could equal Manet, 
Bastien- Lepage, Pradilla, etc., on their own ground, he totally lost all 
interest in their endeavours and in the style that was new for the 
time being. 

Every one of these paintings would be a welcome addition to any 
public gallery, and each one is full of interest by reason of it being 
a Menzel. But not one of them is truly inspired, and it is not the 
painter in oils which posterity will cherish most in Menzel. 

If, indeed, we want to get the keenest enjoyment out of his work 
in this vehicle, we must fall back upon such canvasses as the Interior 
with the open balcony door, which anticipates the problems that have 
busied later generations for years, or the Performance in the I'hMtre 
Gymnase at Paris, that wonderful picture which vies in the brilliancy 
and fire of its coloration with the best of Delacroix. The former 
painting was done in 1 845, the latter in 1 848. 

Perhaps it was upon casually coming across old pictures such as 
these two that the master in his last years was filled with dissatisfaction 
with his life-work on Frederick the Great. He would have been 
justified in feeling that here a gi-eat painter had been nipped in the 
bud in consequence of his ill-advised search for the true " historical " 
vein, his mistaken identification of that which is heroic in literature 
with that which is monumental in art. 

When he painted in water- and body-colour he remained more 
at ease, directing his attention primarily to his media and to his style. 
We need make no reservation when we praise these productions. 
They form a kind of stepping-stone from the oil-paintings to that 
class of work which will interest the possessor of the present volume 
most. As for that, indeed, it remains to be seen whether future times 
will not award the palm to his drawings pure and simple when they 
make the final estimate of Menzel's life-work. 

Their number is legion, and the array of them at the recent 
Menzel Memorial Exhibition in Berlin — some five thousand sheets — 
was simply stupendous. It is reported that he would interrupt a 
social gathering, or the proceedings of some important meeting, by 
gravely fetching out his sketch-book and pencil in order to draw a 

9 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

carved chair, an embroidered coat, somebody's hand, or whatever else 
happened to strike his eye, and the proceedings sometimes came to a 
standstill until he had finished. If he was not always drawing, he 
was at least, in every sense of the word, always ready to draw, always 
prepared for work. Sculptors, in order to give voice to gratitude or to 
set up a pattern for posterity, have erected memorials symbolising 
" Work." Wandering through the Menzel Exhibition one was 
impressed with the fact that this really was a monument of " Work " 
as powerful as any that has ever been erected, showing what sheer 
force of work can achieve, and that the pure will for work, when 
present to such a degree, is alone enough to immortalise a man. 

Menzel was naturally left-handed. When already past boyhood 
he trained himself to use his right hand too, and from that time 
could draw equally well with either. It is said that he continued 
making the rapid nature sketches with his left, and produced the 
careful finished drawings with his right hand. •• 

It was not only the mass of material that overwhelmed one at the 
Menzel Exhibition, the extraordinary variety of work undertaken by 
him was just as imposing. He had in the course of his career 
attempted every manner of technique. Over and above that he 
had attacked subjects of every description. There were quick 
" impressions " taken on the wing, and minute painstaking drawings, 
with all imaginable intermediate stages in addition. He would 
handle the same subject at one time with an eye to contrasts of light 
and shade ; at another with a view to qualities of line and the 
presentation of a bold form ; at a third with an aim at general 
pictorial effect. He would repeat the same study over and over 
again. Many people who believed that they owned the study for 
some figure in one of the famous paintings, discovered at this 
exhibition that theirs was only one of a set of quite similar 
drawings, and they could note how thoroughly Menzel went to 
work whenever, he prepared a new picture. There were even back 
and side views of figures which in the ultimate painting were to be 
seen from the front. He did these, of course, merely in order to 
better understand and grasp the pose, although such supernumerary 
studies could not be put to practical uses. In general he strove, at 
least in his early days, to study his subject so conscientiously that there 
would be no more surprises of any kind in store for him. Perhaps the 
best insight into his method of work was afforded by the preparatory 
drawings for the Coronation picture. The National Gallery at 
Berlin alone possesses 170 of these. The painting includes 132 
portraits, and we have Menzel's own account of the trouble he was 
10 



THE DRAWINGS OF ADOLPH VON MENZEL 

put to in order to get all the persons shown to sit for him. If the 
picture failed in the end, it was not for want of self-sacrifice on the 
part of the painter. 

It is strange to note that Menzel's eyesight and his handicraft 
seem to have grown stronger and more capable the older he became. 
Thus it transpired that, unlike all other famous artists, his handling 
did not grow broader and freer with age, but, on the contrary, went 
more into detail ; he finished everything off more and more carefully 
to the very end of his days. 

The present selection has been made from the portfolios that 
were found in his studio after Menzel's death. There were twenty- 
nine of these portfolios, containing over four thousand drawings, 
covering all periods of his life, and the selection is a fairly repre- 
sentative one — as representative, perhaps, as fifty drawings can be 
made to be out of a total of several thousands. Every one of them 
is here reproduced for the first time, except the title page for an 
album; I considered myself particularly lucky to be able to include 
this. It is an excellent specimen of that particular style of designing 
in which Menzel delighted and surpassed. It goes hand in hand 
with The Maurergesellenbrief^ The Shooting Diploma, The Pater 
Noster, etc. 

This drawing really requires a longer commentary than it is 
possible to devote to it here. Its theme is the various paths of an 
artist to glory, the propitious and unfavourable experiences that befall 
the many candidates, the opinions of the public at large and of the 
professional critics. Some of the aspirants try the "short cut," by 
currying favour with a powerful academy or a famous master ; some 
by simply employing their well-filled purses, while others try to edge 
themselves in by hook or by crook. Various are their professed ideals as 
they journey onward to the common goal, and scathing is their opinion 
of the other man's ideal. In the midst of all this turmoil the child 
of genius sleeps secure in Nature's arm. She will take care of him 
when time comes. He need not worry about the ways and means. 



II 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



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PORTRAIT OF A MAN 



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CHILDREN BLINDFOLDED 



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LADY IN AN ARM CHAIR 



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THE CHURCH BELL 



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TOP OF THE PULPIT IN THE CATHEDRAL AT WURZBURG 



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