Ernst Barlach - Der Verschwender I
Der Verschwender I
Bronze Height 54.4 cm. On cast-with plinth (2 x 16.7 x 14.3 cm) Signed 'E Barlach' on the right side of the plinth. Foundry mark "H. NOACK BERLIN" verso on edge of plinth upper right and stamped numeration left. Cast 6/12. Posthumous cast from the Barlach estate on the basis of the plaster model (Laur 327, Ernst Barlach Stiftung Güstrow) from the early 1990s. Laur mentions an edition of 12 bronzes, cast from 1996 onwards. There were no life-time casts. - Very fine bronze-coloured patina, in some places with slightly lustrous highlights.
The motif of the squanderer goes back to a charcoal drawing created in September of 1912, which the artist identifies in a handwritten note as a depiction of the “prodigal son”. Barlach is referring to the “Parable of the Lost Son”, told in the Gospel of Luke, in which the younger son squanders the inheritance paid out to him and then, as a repentant beggar, subsequently confesses his sins before his father. Filled with joy by his return, the father immediately holds a great feast and takes him back into the fold of the family.
In 1915 Barlach took up this subject - which is often referred to in the history of art - in the context of his designs for a chimney facing at Charlotte von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy's Berlin residence; however, this piece would be realised in a different form. It was not until 1921 that Barlach created the model of “Verschwender I”, which he formulated as a casually standing man of a young age. Dressed in a long robe and with a purse hanging in front of him, he holds several coins in the open palms of his crossed hands.
Barlach designed a second variation, which differs only slightly from the present sculpture, along with other figurative decoration for the hall of the Wroclaw collector Leo Lewin's villa. However, this Wroclaw project from 1920/1921 is preserved solely in the form of sketches: it was evidently never realised. A plaster model of this variation, entitled “Der Verschwender II” (Laur 329), was also created in 1921. In addition to the three-dimensional sculptures in the round, Barlach also transposed the figure of “Der Verschwender” into a 92 cm wooden relief in 1923. Formerly with Paul Cassirer in Berlin, this work referred to as “Der Verschwender III” (Laur 357) has been in the collection of Hanover's Sprengel Museum since 1955.
Laur 330; Schult I 256 (plaster)
With a confirmation by Ernst Barlach, Lizenzverwaltung Ratzeburg, dated 26 September 2016
Gift from Nikolaus Barlach to the former owner; family possession since
Cf. Annette Wittboldt/Elisabeth Laur, Ernst Barlach, Die Zeichnungen, Teil 1, Güstrow 2013, nos. 1140, 1370, 1375, cf. also the charcoal drawings of 1921 resp.1922, nos. 1773, 1954; cf.. Volker Probst (ed.), Ernst Barlach, Das plastische Werk, Werkverzeichnis II, Güstrow 2006, nos. 355-357 (relief versions of the motif in plaster, bronze, wood)