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Property of a West Coast Collector

Flöte blasender Faun (Syrinx Pan)

Flöte blasender Faun (Syrinx Pan)
signed 'FRANZ/VON/STUCK' (lower center)
tinted plaster
33 ½ x 18 ½ in. (85.1 x 47 cm.)
Executed circa 1914-1915.

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Lot Essay

Franz von Stuck came to prominence in the latter half of the 19th century in an artistic landscape dominated by the Academic style and Realism. His work represents a stark stylistic and philosophical departure from these movements and traditions and served as an important precursor to artists like Gustav Klimt and Edward Munch. A professor at Munich’s Akademie der Bildenden Künste and a founding member of the Munich Secession, Stuck’s body of work largely used a mythological and idealized vocabulary to explore dichotomous eternal themes. After his success, both critical and commercial, around the turn of the century, Stuck embarked on creating a Gesamtkunstwerk in the form of his palatial home, the Villa Stuck, wherein all the elements would form a perfect whole. Stuck, who practiced across media as a painter, sculptor, designer and illustrator, became the self-taught architect and decorator for the residence, which is now a museum. His vision of an artist’s home entirely conceived by the artist invokes both Renaissance tradition and connects to the contemporary wholistic design approach of Art Nouveau. The home was built between 1897 and 1898 and much of the rich decoration in the villa and on its grounds is centered on plaster casts and copies of antique sculpture. The curation and execution of these copies critically impacted Stuck’s sculptural oeuvre which came to chiefly include masks and statuettes in soft or cast materials as opposed to production by chiseling or carving (J. A. Schmoll, gen. Eisenwerth, ‘Idee und Gestalt der Villa Stuck‘, Franz von Stuck : Persönlichkeit und Werk, Munich, 1977, pp. 11-17).
The present work is a version of a work first conceived by Stuck as decoration for the Villa. The earliest known version, complete with a bronzed finish was embedded into the wall to the right of the staircase to the studio between 1909 and 1914. By 1915, another version was embedded into the eastern garden wall (T. Raff, “Die Kraft des Mannes und die weiche Schmiegsamkeit des Weibes“, Franz von Stuck: Das plastische Werk, Tettenweis, 2011, p. 84). Beside these two versions at the Villa, another version emerged from a private German collection in 2018 (Ketterer Kunst GmbH & Co. KG, Munich, 18 May 2018, lot 69).
As is seen in much of Stuck’s œuvre, his personal philosophy, which dealt strongly with the intellectual preoccupations of the day, manifests in both the subject and aesthetic of this plaster cast. Philosophies of those such as Friedrich Nietzsche can be seen in the opposing themes in the model. On one hand, the subject of the bacchanalian fawn playing pipes evokes Dionysian spontaneity, chaos, and licentious excess. Meanwhile the rigid pose of the figure in a measured stance and surrounded with a columnar structure evokes Apollonian associations with order, structure, and the intellectual. Such expressions of the dichotomous, meant to explore spiritual and philosophical extremes were central to the work of both Stuck and Nietzsche.
Sensual subjects framed within an Apollonian setting appear in many of Stuck’s works including his seminal work on original sin, Die Sünde, as well as other depictions of satyrs such as Flöte blasender Faun now in a private collection (see T. Raff, ‘Die Kraft des Mannes unde die weiche Schmiegsamkeit des Weibes’ Franz von Stuck: Das plastische Werk, exh. cat., 2011, p. 86, no. 106 and H. Voss, <i>Franz von Stuck: 1863-1928</i>, Munich, 1973, p. 307, no. 515/23). Dionysian fauns appear several times in the Villa Stuck, for example Syrinx blasender Faun am Meer, conceived in the same year as the present work (Raff, pp. 84-87). Most of the sculpture in Stuck’s home are copies of classical statuary. The artist's original inception of the present work, as opposed to selecting a model to copy, indicates the particular importance to the artist that this display of contrasts be included in his great life’s work. There is no evidence to suggest it was ever intended for public display elsewhere.
While Stuck enjoyed popularity and knighthood during his life, by the beginning of the First World War and closer to the end of his career, Stuck’s signature style became less popular with criticism about excess and vulgarity. However, while the consequence of Symbolist art has at times been disregarded, scholarly investigation into the expression of extreme emotional states and, as in the present work, manifestations of opposing ideals through manipulations of color, space and form has renewed. The influence of Stuck’s oeuvre on those of his contemporaries such as Gustav Klimt, Edvard Munch and others, as well as consideration of his work as a demonstration of his time and place continues to develop.

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