Lot 221: Ernst Barlach, Der Sänger (Singender Klosterschüler), 1931
December 2, 2016
Cologne, GermanyLive Auction
Description: Signed 'Barlach' on the right side of the cast-with plinth and with foundry mark "H. NOACK BERLIN" on the right edge of the plinth. One of 34 unnumbered bronzes cast after 1939 from the total edition of 35 casts. Posthumous cast.Ernst Barlach's images of musicians show individuals absorbed within themselves, meditatively listening in on their own inner being. The “Singender Klosterschüler” represents precisely this type: In a still and collected pose, he concentrates on intensely grasping his own inward experience. The Lübeck museum director Carl Georg Heise visited Ernst Barlach in Güstrow in 1929 with the intention of purchasing a work for his town. At that point the plan to furnish the blind niches of the medieval St Catherine's Church in Lübeck with over-life-sized figures was developed. The church had already long since ceased to be used for services at that time, and it had been converted into an exhibition space upon Heise's initiative. Titled “Gemeinschaft der Heiligen” a figural frieze consisting of 16 niche figures was to be created. Barlach wanted to utilise a number of preliminary designs from prior years for them: motifs which, to some extent, thematise fundamental dispositions of human existence more than they present the ecclesiastical canon. The large number and massive format of the figures repeatedly led Barlach to have doubts about the project's success. Financing this ambitious plan also represented a great challenge and - in combination with conservationist concerns as well as general reactionary-nationalist resentment towards Barlach's work - this was the reason why only three figures of the “Gemeinschaft der Heiligen” were finally carried out by the artist (cf. Elisabeth Lauer/Volker Probst, Ernst Barlach: Das plastische Werk; Werkverzeichnis II, Güstrow 2006, pp. 40 ff.): “Bettler”, “Singender Klosterschüler” and “Frau im Wind” (Lauer 446, 489 and 515). The present sculpture in the round was created as a bronze cast based on a preliminary scale model of the approximately two-metre niche figure made of clinker masonry for Lübeck's St Catherine's Church.
Condition Report: Fine patina with a reddish olive-coloured tinge. Barely legibly inscribed "Barlach Buller" in pencil to the inside of the plinth.
Notes: VAT: Margin scheme
Provenance: Galerie Alex Vömel, Dusseldorf (label attached to the inside); Collection Wilhelm Buller, Duisburg; Private collection, North Germany
Dimensions: Height 52 cm
Artist or Maker: Ernst Barlach
Exhibited: i.a. Hamburg 1948 (Galerie Hoffmann), Ernst Barlach, cat. no. 16; Dusseldorf 1951 (Galerie Alex Vömel), Ernst Barlach, cat. no. 14; Berlin 1951/1952 (Akademie der Künste), Ernst Barlach, cat. p. 124; Dusseldorf 1955 (Kunstverein der Rheinlande), Sammlung Wilhelm Buller, cat. no. 8 (this cast); Essen 1958 (Villa Hügel), Düsseldorfer Kunstschätze, cat. no. 129; Bremen 1959 (Kunsthalle Bremen), Ernst Barlach, cat. no. 39; Bremen 2001 (Kunsthalle Bremen), Ernst Barlach. Kaviar statt Brot, Kurt Reutti. Sammler und Stifter, no.15
Literature: Jürgen Doppelstein/Heike Stockhaus, Ernst Barlach, Mystiker der Moderne, exhib. cat. Ernst Barlach Gesellschaft, Hauptkirche St. Katharinen, Hamburg 2003, p. 261; Heinz Spielmann, Stiftung und Sammlung Rolf Horn, Schleswig 1995, cat. no. 123; Ursula Heiderich, Katalog der Skulpturen in der Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen 1993, pp. 110 f.