Gert Heinrich Wollheim - Die Besenfrau (Scattering our illusions) - image-1

Lot 279 D

Gert Heinrich Wollheim - Die Besenfrau (Scattering our illusions)

Auction 1090 - overview Cologne
31.05.2017, 18:00 - Modern Art
Estimate: 18.000 € - 22.000 €
Result: 14.880 € (incl. premium)

Gert Heinrich Wollheim

Die Besenfrau (Scattering our illusions)

Oil on panel 175 x 101.5 cm Framed. Signed 'WollhEiM PARiS' in black in the lower margin upside down in the sweepings and inscribed and titled "Scattering our illusions" on an exhibition label with his name and his address details verso. - Very fine condition.

Gert Wollheim was a member of the artists group “Das junge Rheinland” from the very beginning and had been friends with the Düsseldorf gallerist Johanna Ey since the early 1920s; after Hitler seized power, he emigrated to Paris. As a Jewish painter with a Socialist orientation and a radical commitment to supporting young artists' rights, he understood the signs of the times: he was denied inclusion in an exhibition at the Prussian academy of the arts because of the “racial deficiencies linked with him”.
In Paris Wollheim first lived in the working-class suburb of Montrouge, where he may also have been inspired to create “Besenfrau”, the painting offered here. The figure, who has been reduced to ragged tatters but nonetheless works energetically while standing erectly, sweeps up Wollheim's name together with other refuse, seemingly a symbol for the lack of social recognition for the artist living as an émigré.
The relevance and importance assigned to the painting - also on the part of Wollheim - is demonstrated by its exhibition at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Institute, under the title “Scattering our illusions”, in 1936, only shortly after it was created.
The art critic Paul Westheim, who had also emigrated to Paris, describes a visit to Wollheim in the “Pariser Tageszeitung” of 20 February 1935:
“When you enter his studio, there is a just-finished painting standing on the easel: a concierge sweeping the street. There is an air of a Millet, Daumier or Goya about this worked creature. Seen more grandly than in Wollheim's previous work. His craft has become more mature, his lessons from Seurat have been of benefit.” (cited in: Stephan von Wiese, in: exhib. cat., Wollheim, Düsseldorf 1993 (Kunstmuseum im Ehrenhof), p. 234).

Catalogue Raisonné

Euler-Schmidt/Osterhof 294; Euler-Schmidt 253


Gertrud Isolani, Neuilly sur Seine; Satinover, Paris; Private possession, Paris


Pittsburgh 1936 (Carnegie Institute), The 1936 International Exhibition, cat. no. 218 (exhibition label verso); Paris 1938 ?, Cinq Ans de Dictature Hitlerienne, Volksfront-Ausstellung