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Christian Schad (1894-1982)


Christian Schad (1894-1982)
signed and dated 'SCHAD 30' (lower left)
oil on canvas
12 3/8 x 9 1/8 in. (31.5 x 23.4 cm.)
Painted in September-October 1930
Galleria del Levante, Milan (acquired from the artist, 1968).
Mattana collection, Milan (acquired from the above, circa 1980).
Private collection; sale, Sotheby's, London, 10 October 2001, lot 62. Dover Street Gallery, London.
Acquired by the present owner, 2005.
Uhu, Berlin, October 1930, vol. 7, no. 1 (illustrated on the cover).
C. Laszlo, Christian Schad, Basel, 1972, p. 213 (illustrated).
J. Hülsewig-Johnen, ed., Neue Sachlichkeit--Magischer Realismus, exh. cat., Kunsthalle Bielefeld, 1990, pp. 8-23 (illustrated, p. 16).
G.A. Richter, Christian Schad, Monographie, Rottach-Egern, 2002, p. 226 (illustrated in color, p. 227).
J. Lloyd, Christian Schad and the Neue Sachlichkeit, New York, 2003, p. 171 (illustrated in color).
T. Ratzka, Christian Schad, Catalogue Raisonné, Volume I: Paintings, Cologne, 2008, pp. 41 and 178, no. 115 (illustrated in color, pp. 40 and 179).
Milan, Munich and Rome, Galleria del Levante, Aspetti della nuova oggetittività--Aspekte der Neuen Sachlichkeit, June-September 1968, no. 131 (illustrated).
Milan, Galleria del Levante, Christian Schad, Bilder 1920-1930, February 1970, no. 62 (illustrated).
Rome, Galleria il Fante di Spade and Modena, Galleria Mutina, Christian Schad. Dipinti dal 1920 al 1930, March 1970.
Milan, Palazzo Reale, Christian Schad, October-December 1972, no. 138 (illustrated).
Bologna, Galleria d'Arte Stivani, Christian Schad, February-March 1973, no. 17 (illustrated).
Nuremberg, Kunsthalle, Drei Generationen: Menschenbilder von Christian Schad, Eberhard Schlotter, Peter Sorge, August-October 1975, no. 14 (illustrated).
Munich, Haus der Kunst; Essen, Museum Folkwang and Zürich, Kunsthaus, Die 30er Jahre--Schauplatz Deutschland, February-September 1977, no. 114 (illustrated).
Zürich, Kunsthaus, Deutschland 1930-1939, Verbot--Anpassung--Exil, August-October 1977.
Berlin, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Christian Schad, Retrospektive, June-August 1980, no. 139 (illustrated in color).
Milan, Palazzo della Permanente, Nuova Oggetivatà. Germania e Italia 1920-1939, February-March 1995 (illustrated).
Zürich, Kunsthaus; Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Emden, Kunsthalle, Christian Schad, 1894-1982, August 1997-April 1998, p. 148, no. 43 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Musée Maillol and New York, Neue Galerie, Christian Schad - das Frühwerk (1915-1935), Gemälde--Zeichnungen--Schadographien, November 2002-June 2003.

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Mariana Gantus
Mariana Gantus

Lot Essay

The paintings of Christian Schad did not figure in Franz Roh's pioneering study of the Neue Sachlichkeit movement in 1925, nor was the artist well-known beyond a small circle of admirers in his time. His work has nevertheless come to typify for many present-day viewers the most engaging and sympathetic side of the coolly observed and hyper-detailed brand of objective realism that was practiced in Germany during the 1920s. Unlike some adherents to this style, such as Otto Dix and George Grosz, Schad unfailingly demonstrated the most genuine and affecting sense of compassion for his subjects, and he never resorted to distortion or grotesquerie at their expense to make a satirical or stylistic point. Schad painted Freundinnen in 1930, at the very peak of his involvement with the pictorial ethos of Neue Sachlichkeit. His production dwindled soon after this, and the political events of the day also took their toll, contributing to the obscurity in which his career languished until the "rediscovery" of his work during the 1960s.

Friedrich Kroner, the editor of the Berlin publishing house Ullstein-Verlag, commissioned Schad in 1930 to paint a double portrait showing two young women, which would serve as a color cover for the publisher's magazine Uhu. Kroner wanted Schad to portray one of his female friends, in the company of the artist's girlfriend, Maika Lahmann. While Schad, an accomplished and innovative photographer, normally took his own photos when he required them for his work, on this occasion he used a portrait of Maika and her friend which had been taken by Yva, the professional name of Elsa Neuländer-Simon, a Berlin advertising photographer. Schad cropped the image and altered the women's clothing. He painted Freudinnen during September-October 1930 in his Hardenbergstrasse studio, Berlin.

While this close-up image of the two women's faces fills the canvas in today's familiar cover girl manner (fashion magazines nowadays usually avoid using profile views), this portrait is not merely a decorative illustration meant to entice the reader to look into the magazine. The use of the two women, whose individual appearances contrast in both subtle and sharply distinctive ways, sets up a fascinating study in character and physiognomy. Maika, the dark-haired sitter, comes across as likely being the more introspective one of the pair, and perhaps the more sensually inclined. She played small parts in the films of the Tobis production studio. We know nothing about her friend, but taking note of her wavy auburn hair and more strongly pronounced nose, one suspects she may have been the more demonstrative and outgoing of the two. These differences aside, their eyes, eyebrows and lips are actually very similar. Notice how the softly shaded jaw-lines of the two women gently merge along a line, as does the contour of the top of Maika's head with her friend's hairline, drawing both faces together into an attractively unified image. In later years Schad referred to this double-portrait as the Schwestern ("Sisters").

Kroner published Freundinnen on the cover of the October 1930 edition of Uhu. Ullstein Verlag unaccountably did not purchase the painting, but instead paid Schad a fee for the use of the image. The artist retained the picture, and did not sell it until the resurgence of interest in his work during the 1960s.

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