Franz Seraph von Lenbach - Portrait of Marion Lenbach
Franz Seraph von Lenbach
Portrait of Marion Lenbach
Oil on card (parquetted). 73 x 92 cm.
Signed and dated lower right: F. Lenbach 1899.
Lenbach was a proud father. He painted numerous portraits of his daughter Marion, and the girl remained with her father following Franz and Magdalena Lenbach's amicable divorce in 1896. Marion Lenbach was just seven years old when she was portrayed in this work. She wears an opulent ribbon head dress, which partially covers her pale blonde hair, and a smart dress. She looks out towards the observer with a focussed gaze. One can almost sense her comparative maturity in the work, and how accustomed she was to her role as model.
The pastel colours of the dynamically painted headdress, its ornaments, and the silk scarf around her neck contrast starkly against the otherwise dark and sombre palette of the composition. As in many of his works, Lenbach utilises the brown colour of the support, in this case card, to intensify and brighten areas of the composition by partially dispensing with an opaque ground, for example here in some areas of the skin. This technique gives Marion's childlike features the appearance of porcelain. He uses this same technique in the hair ribbons, applying paint in turquoise, white, and brown in glazed layers, pastose daubs, and smudged areas, to create a highly unusual effect. The partially visible pencil drawing is typical of Lenbach's works on card. Like so many of his portraits, this work is characterised by the refined and almost ghost-like depiction of its sitter.
Private collection, West Germany.