Christian Klaus, The Debtor

Christian Klaus, The Debtor

A fine late 19th-century oil on canvas by German painter, Christian Klaus (1843-1893). A seated older gentleman is clutching a letter while his wife counts through a pile of small coins. Another gentleman, presumably a debt collector, stands alongside them and leans on the window sill.

It’s a painting that reveals a deeper significance when you consider the abundance of symbolism. For instance, note how the composition is designed to give priority to the tallest figures - first the collector, who towers above, then the seated gentleman, then the lady, and finally the cat. The cat, which is clearly hungry with no food in sight, is looking towards the seated lady who has other matters on her mind.

And if you cast your eyes upwards, you’ll notice a birdcage - the bird trapped unable to escape its simple confines. While in the far corner, the wall is covered in religious icons as the couple look towards the divine for spiritual intervention.

Christian Klaus was a highly skilled German painter that trained in Nuremberg and Munich. He exhibited in Vienna, Berlin, Dusseldorf and Dresden and won a medal in 1869.

The painting is signed/dated in the lower right and housed within a period frame that could be its original.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 23” x 26” / 59cm x 67cm
Year of creation: 1881
Provenance: Austria
Condition: Craquelure in areas and several minor paint losses. Frame with some age-related wear.
Artist’s auction highlight: £4,070 achieved for ‘Grossmutter Erzählt’ at auction in 1996.

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