Ernst Barlach - Russische Bettlerin II - image-1

Lot 75 Dα

Ernst Barlach - Russische Bettlerin II

Auction 1177 - overview Cologne
17.06.2021, 18:00 - Modern/Contemporary Art - Evening Sale
Estimate: 20.000 € - 30.000 €
Result: 42.500 € (incl. premium)

Ernst Barlach

Russische Bettlerin II
Circa 1932

Bronze Height 23.2 cm Signed 'E.Barlach' and with foundry mark "H. NOACK BERLIN" on the rear lower left edge. One of 27 unnumbered casts executed since 1938 from a total edition of 31 unnumbered exemplars. - Fine dark brown patina, partly somewhat lightened. - In fine condition.

The five bronze sculptures by Ernst Barlach which we are able to offer this auction season provide a sense of the artistic development that can be identified in his sculptural oeuvre. The "Russische Bettlerin mit Schale", created in 1906, and the "Russische Bettlerin II" - whose design follows the small version from 1907, although it was first realised at this size in 1932 - illustrate the thematic and artistic impulses that Barlach gleaned from the several weeks he spent travelling in Russia in 1906. After his earliest work, which was influenced by Jugendstil, the artist now found his way to simplified, cohesive forms. He slightly stylised the long robes covering the bodies of Russia's rural populace and transformed them into flowing, ornamental lines. While the representational details and narrative aspect still dominate in the "Bettlerin mit Schale", which was created earlier, he has already transposed the stooped-over figure of the second "Bettlerin" into a thoroughly abstracted form which only vaguely suggests the human body beneath the lengths of fabric.
Drapery also remains a defining element in Barlach's later sculptures, where he constructs the figure through the form of the drapery. It establishes a unifying covering for the body and, through this reduction of form, it ensures a focus on gesture and pose; emotional agitation can also be visualised through it.
From 1910 Barlach's main body of work was strongly influenced by the Gothic sculptures in the churches of his native Northern Germany. He translates the formal principles he saw there into his own expressive idiom. In doing so, he made use of specific compositions from medieval works of sacred art, but without necessarily adopting their iconographic content. He created sculptures which possess a timeless expressive power and visualise fundamental statements of human existence.
The elongated, statuesque figures of Christ and Thomas in "Wiedersehen", from 1926, are interlocked in their physically distant but nonetheless heartfelt embrace; the strongly differentiated poses of their bodies provide an eloquent statement about the circumstances of their encounter. The "Zweifler" of 1930 presents himself in a block-like form with an earthy gravity: the drapery condenses his kneeling body into a unified entity, and his inner strife reveals itself in the angle of the head and the wringing of the hands. The figure of the "Buchleser" from 1936 - also entitled "Lesender Mann im Wind" - likewise presents a self-contained, unified entity; pose and gaze are entirely oriented towards his reading. The slightly billowed drapery of his lap and the dishevelled hair can be interpreted as the effects of the wind, but also as subtle signs of inner agitation.

Catalogue Raisonné

Laur 517; Schult I, 71


With an expert report by Hans Barlach, Ratzeburg, dated 13 June 1990 (copy)


Ernst Barlach, Werke und Werkentwürfe aus fünf Jahrzehnten, Veröffentlichung der Akademie der Künste der DDR in Zusammenarbeit mit den Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, ed. by Elmar Jansen, vol. 3, Berlin 1981, no. 16; Anita Beloubek-Hammer, Ernst Barlach, Plastische Meisterwerke, Leipzig 1996, p. 26f.; Eva Caspers, Ernst Barlach Haus, Munich 2001, no. 34f.


Bremen 1959 (Kunsthalle), Ernst Barlach, cat. no. 496; Rostock 1998 (Kunsthalle), Ernst Barlach, Artist of the North, p. 84; Hamburg 2001 (Kunsthalle), Private Schätze. Über das private Sammeln von Kunst in Hamburg bis 1933, p. 169; Flensburg/Ribe 2002 (Museumsberg Flensburg/Ribe Kunstmuseum), Ernst Barlachs Wege und Wandlungen, Vom Jugendstil zum Expressionismus, no. 14; Hamburg 2002 (Ernst Barlach Gesellschaft), Barlach und Russland, Ernst Barlachs Russlandreise im Sommer 1906, p. 347