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George Grosz (1893-1959)
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George Grosz (1893-1959)

Hommage to Rubens

Details
George Grosz (1893-1959)
Hommage to Rubens
signed, titled and dated 'Hommage to Rubens Grosz 38' (along the upper edge); with the Nachlass stamp numbered 'I A8 I' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
27¼ x 21¼in. (69.2 x 54cm.)
Painted in 1938
Provenance
The Artist's Estate.
Richard A. Cohn, New York.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, December 2, 1986, lot 383.
Anon. sale, Dorotheum, Vienna, Auction 1556, 15 March, 1988, lot 85.
Anon. sale, Villa Grisebach, Berlin, Auction 35, 27 November, 1993, lot 228.
Anon. sale, Villa Grisebach, Berlin, Auction 47, 25 November, 1995, lot 288.
Exhibited
Fort Salonga, Country Life Art Center, George Grosz Nudes, June 1958.
Huntington, Hekscher Museum, George Grosz Works in Oil, July-September 1977. Travelling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution.
Washington D.C., The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, George Grosz, September-January 1979.
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.
Sale Room Notice
Sold with a photo-certificate from Mr Ralph Jentsch dated Capri/New York, August 31, 2000, confirming that the work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of oil paintings by George Grosz.

We are grateful to Mr Jentsch for his help in researching this work.

Lot Essay

When Grosz left Germany for New York in 1933 he left much of his subject matter behind him. No longer the 'saddest man in Europe' and Germany's foremost social critic, in America he sought to become recognised as an artist in his own right. Visits to the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum led to his reassessing the art of the past and one of his main subjects of this period became the female nude.

With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in early 1937, Grosz took up oil painting once again on a large scale, painting apocalyptic landscapes and battle scenes that referred to the cruel war in Europe. However, as much as he was involved in this world of gruesome paintings, he was always aware of another side. Though he undoubtedly felt related to the masters of the middle ages, especially Breughel and Bosch, he also felt a strong connection to artists like Rubens, Renoir and Courbet, dedicating a number of drawings and paintings with nudes to them. In a revealing letter to his wife's aunt Grosz admits, 'I am also painting the other side. Numerous nudes - woman signifies for me life, future, she is the harbinger of things to come. I depict her in a 'positive' manner ...Renoir never had a vision of a woman.... burnt, maltreated, destroyed. One can admire such a gift, I have only half of this wonderful gift; my world is mainly a gloomy one, a haunted one, but there are areas without fear, without pain and war, areas where nymphs live and that has a sensuality in its own right."

Grosz had a penchant for large "heavy-thighed" women whom he describes as "playing a prominent part in my fantasies". From his early drawings of trapeze artists to the prostitutes of his Berlin street scenes, the "rubensian" physique is prominent in all his work. In this respect, Hommage to Rubens can be seen as not just a hommage to a master whose work Grosz had always admired but also an acknowledgement of their shared eroticism.
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