Ernst Barlach - Bildhauer vor dem Modell (Sculptors in Front of the Model), 1892

Bronze

18 x 30 cm
7 x 11 inch

signed bottom right: “E. Barlach”
E. Laur, Ernst Barlach, Das plastische Werk

Cat. rais. no. 9

N 9437

About the work

The work of  Ernst Barlach is timeless. His figures always express essential human emotions. The statements of his works apply, irrespective of the time, and are still relevant today.
Barlach studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden between 1891 and 1895. The plaster mould for the bronze cast in 1970 originates from the year 1892, when Barlach attended the lectures of the director of the sculpture collection of the time, Georg Treu, in Dresden. Barlach was the master pupil of the sculptor Robert Diez and admired the antiquities collection of the Albertina at this time.

The Bildhauer vor dem Modell (Sculptors in Front of the Model) relief is one of a total of six works documented from Barlach’s student years, whereby only three of these early works still survive. The relief shows a scene from the master class of Robert Diez, who was made a professor of the Dresden Academy of Arts in 1891 as the successor of Ernst Julius Hähnel. Following his training in Hamburg, which was characterised more by applied arts content, Barlach wished to follow up on this with an academic education in Dresden. However, he was then disappointed when he changed to Dresden in 1891. “I found myself in a time that had no example left that was conducive to me […]; without knowing it, I stood naked and bare in a monstrous wasteland and could myself see what would become of me.”(1)

According to the catalogue raisonné, this relief decorated the lid of a little box containing verse and drawings by Barlach and his fellow students. The young women modelling for the two sculptors is Josephine Löser. One of the represented people may even be Barlach himself, who at the same time manifests his artistic profession as a sculptor in this early work.

1   Cited from: Astrid Nielsen, “Here in Dresden, one dawdles away one’s little bit of life according to the fashion …ʼ Ernst Barlachs Studienjahre in Dresden”, in: Ernst Barlach. Eine Retrospektive, exhib. cat., Albertinum, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Dresden 2020, pp. 45–75, here: p. 50.

Text authored and provided by Dr Andrea Fink, art historian

The art historian, curator and freelance publicist Andrea Fink studied art history, cultural studies and humanities, modern history and philosophy in Bochum and Vienna. Doctorate in 2007 on the work of the Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. As a freelance curator and art consultant, her clients include, among others, the Kunstverein (art association) Ahlen, Kunstverein Soest, Wella Museum, Museum am Ostwall Dortmund, ThyssenKrupp AG, Kulturstiftung Ruhr, Osthaus Museum Hagen, Franz Haniel GmbH, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria.

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Ernst Barlach, Sculptors in Front of the Model, 1892, 18 x 30 cm, N 9437
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