19th-Century German School

Study Of A Man’s Head

19th-Century German School

Study Of A Man’s Head

This late 19th-century oil study depicts an older gentleman with a headdress and substantial beard. It’s possibly an academic piece.

Great portraits extend beyond the aesthetic. They trick the mind into believing there’s more to an image than simply a two-dimensional representation. There’s ‘spirit’ in good portraiture, a quality that’s distinctly other-worldly. You may feel the same, you sense a connection with a piece but you can’t describe how it makes you feel.

To capture spirit, an artist needs to flourish in the tricky space between technical prowess and improvisation. If they underwork a portrait, the details may fall short. But if they can’t walk away, the spirit is lost. It’s a fragile component - a wisp in the wind. Often painfully elusive due to its intangible quality.

Academic studies are capable of reaching the highest mark as the artist is working without the associated pressure of a commission or forthcoming show. Here, this accomplished rendering delivers an enigmatic sentiment.

Held within a splendid gilt frame.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 28” x 31½” / 71cm x 80cm
Year of creation: c. 1890
Condition: Artwork presents well. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. Frame with some light wear.

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