Max Ernst - Janus - image-1
Max Ernst - Janus - image-2
Max Ernst - Janus - image-3
Max Ernst - Janus - image-4
Max Ernst - Janus - image-1Max Ernst - Janus - image-2Max Ernst - Janus - image-3Max Ernst - Janus - image-4

Lot 35 D

Max Ernst - Janus

Auction 1247 - overview Cologne
04.06.2024, 18:00 - Modern and Contemporary Art - Evening Sale
Estimate: 50.000 €
Result: 115.920 € (incl. premium)

Max Ernst


Bronze. Height 43.7 cm. Signed and numbered 'max ernst 18/18' and with foundry stamp "A. VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE" on upper plinth. Cast 18/18. The bronze was created with different patinated editions of 20 copies each (numbered 00/18 and 0/18 - 18/18), 8 épreuves d'artiste and several épreuves d'essai. - With a lively, golden brown patina.

The Peter Schneppenheim Collection

With six works by Max Ernst, comprising three paintings, one sculpture (Lots 32-35) and two works on paper (Lots 211, 212, Auction 1248, 5 June 2024), selected works from one of the most important and extensive collections of the Franco-German artist - the Schneppenheim Collection - are being offered for sale. The initiator of this collection was the Cologne physician Dr Peter Schneppenheim (1926-2021), who had collected the works over decades on the national and international art market. The collector's persistent and constructive commitment also led to the founding of the Max Ernst Museum in his hometown of Brühl in 2005. His extensive collection of graphic works, illustrated books and select paintings formed the basis of this unique artists' museum.
For almost two decades, Peter Schneppenheim was head physician at the Heilig-Geist Hospital in Cologne-Longerich. He found balance and fulfilment in both music and art, particularly in the works of the painter, graphic artist and sculptor Max Ernst, who was born in Brühl in 1891 and whose work he had often encountered there and in Cologne. One of the first works that he had consciously noticed, and which immediately made him smile, was the collage ‘C'est le chapeau qui fait l'homme’ from 1920. However, the key experience for the acquisition of his works was the first renowned German retrospective in 1951 at Augustusburg Castle in Brühl. Schneppenheim was immediately fascinated by the variety of pictorial themes and techniques: "In my enthusiasm for the unusual, previously unseen works of art, probably also euphorically inspired after having just passed my state examination, I had the idea of acquiring paintings by this artist myself - initially a daring pipe dream on the salary of a young medical assistant, until I had enough for my first works on paper." (quoted from: Max Ernst. Graphische Welten, exhib. cat. Brühl 2004, p. 10).
Schneppenheim's initial enthusiasm for Max Ernst never waned - on the contrary, his increasing interest in the artist's life and work, in his innovative pictorial techniques and literary horizons, led over time to systematic acquisitions with the aim of covering his graphic oeuvre as completely as possible. The purchase of predominantly graphic works was - at least initially - a conscious decision. From the outset, Schneppenheim demonstrated an impressive eye for quality and uniqueness and selected Ernst's primary works on paper. For the first time, in 1968, he also decided to purchase an oil painting and acquired the landscape ‘Les antipodes du paysage’ – now to be offered for sale – (Lot 34) through the renowned gallery owner Fritz Valentien in Stuttgart, who specialised in Max Ernst. This painting is also significant because it formed the starting point for the collection's thematic focus on landscapes.
A special event in the 1970s was Schneppenheim's personal meeting with Max Ernst and his wife Dorothea Tanning on the occasion of a Rhine trip in 1971, which the Cologne gallery owners Hein and Eva Stünke had organised for the artist and his clients. By the time of Max Ernst's death on 1st April 1976, the collection had been expanded with substantial works.
A highlight for Schneppenheim was the first public exhibition of his collection in 1990 at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. In 2001, the Kreissparkasse Köln acquired the graphic holdings of the collection, which became part of the ‘Max Ernst Foundation’. Four years later, a "lifelong dream" came true for the collector with the opening of the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl.


“Janus” is surely the most beautiful bronze sculpture among Max Ernst’s late work. It was created in 1974 in the form of a slab sculpture like those first made by Alberto Giacometti in the 1920s and further developed by Max Ernst. The photographer Edward Quinn, who was a friend of Ernst, recorded the creative process leading to “Janus” in a number of photos shot during a visit to the artist’s studio (see comp. ill.).
One important characteristic of Max Ernst’s sculptural works is their additive construction out of assembled individual elements. In keeping with its title, “Janus”, the sculpture has two sides for viewing, each of which faces in the opposite direction. The vertical rectangular slab is crowned by a different head on each side. For the other elements of the composition, the artist has used toy moulds in the form of shells, turtles and frogs to create plaster casts, although he has removed the animal forms’ legs or feet. Stylised in this way, they still remain identifiable as animals, but they take on the form of male genitals. On one side, the shell form is arranged in a pair on the upper part of the slab, producing an allusion to a woman’s breasts; on the other side, a shell directly under the head assumes the meaning of a beard or lavish necklace.
Male and female, animal form and human form, the everyday find becomes exalted within a surreal artistic context: Ernst plays in a fascinatingly multilayered and humorous manner with the forms and their interpretive possibilities: “The originally neutral toy becomes a masculine function; the conventional relationship between form and content is broken apart and re-presented in a manner full of wit” (Jürgen Pech, Plastische Werke, op. cit., p. 208).

Catalogue Raisonné

No longer in Spies/Metken


Dr. Peter Schneppenheim Collection, Cologne


Cf. Edward Quinn, Max Ernst, Barcelona 1977, ill. p. 18 u. p. 22/23; Susanne Kaufmann, Im Spannungsfeld von Fläche und Raum. Studien zur Wechselwirkung von Malerei und Skulptur im Werk von Max Ernst, Weimar 2003, p. 110, no. 104 with ill. p. 293; Jürgen Pech (ed.), Max Ernst. Plastische Werke, Cologne 2005, p. 208-211, with ill.


Cf. i.a. Newport Beach/Berkeley/Indianapolis 1992/1993 (Newport Harbor Art Museum/University Art Museum, University of California/Indianapolis Museum of Art), Max Ernst, The Sculpture, no. 57, with ill. p. 44; Malmö 1995/1996 (Konsthall), Max Ernst, Skulptur, with ill. p. 184, 185; Turin 1996 (Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Castello di Rivoli), Max Ernst sculpture/sculptures, p. 192, with ill. p. 186; São Paulo 1997 (Museo Brasileiro da Escultura Marilisa Rathsam), Max Ernst, Esculturas, obras sobre papel, obras gráficas, no. 53, p. 38, ill. p. 100, 101; Lisbon 1999/2000 (Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva), Max Ernst, esculturas sculptures, p. 87, with ill. p. 79; Tokyo 2000 (Tokyo Station Gallery), Max Ernst, The Surrealist Universe in Sculpture, Painting and Photography, no. p. 60, p. 165, with ill. p. 79; Schwäbisch Hall/Salzburg 2009 (Kunsthalle Würth/Museum der Moderne), Albtraum und Befreiung. Max Ernst in der Sammlung Würth, p. 336 f. with ill.