Lyonel Feininger (American, 1871-1956) Theaterzen
Lot 3AR
Lyonel Feininger (German/American, 1871-1956) Untitled (Man on ladder and woman on balcony, Inuit and walrus, monkey and skull) (recto); Woman (verso)
Sold for £4,375 (US$ 7,353) inc. premium
Lot Details
Lyonel Feininger (German/American, 1871-1956)
Untitled (Man on ladder and woman on balcony, Inuit and walrus, monkey and skull) (recto); Woman (verso)
signed 'Feininger' (centre right, recto)
pencil, pen, ink and watercolour on paper (recto); pencil on paper (verso)
26.7 x 19cm (10 1/2 x 7 1/2in).
Executed circa 1900


    Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 13 February 1985, lot 52.
    Acquired from the above sale by the present owner.

    This work is sold with a photo-certificate of authenticity from Mr. Achim Moeller dated New York, 2 May 2011 and will be included in the Lyonel Feininger archives of drawings and watercolours with the number 465-05-02-11.

    Depicting Japanese figures on a bamboo ladder, a menacing Inuit fisherman pulled by a walrus, and a monkey holding a skull on a floodlit stage in a Shakespearian parody, this surreal tableau confirms the artist's view of himself as 'a fantastic dweller on the negative side of the sublime' (Feininger speaking in 1896, quoted in B. Haskell, Lyonel Feininger, At the Edge of the World, ex. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2011, p.13) and contrasts to the more traditional figure of a woman seen on the reverse of the work. Both compositions, however, show the strength of Feininger's draughtsmanship and sure use of line.

    Executed circa 1900, the present work comes from the artist's short but prolific period as one of Germany's leading illustrators. Feininger had drawn incessantly throughout his childhood, sending illustrated letters to his friends and studying caricature books. Having moved to Germany from his native America in 1887, he achieved early success in Berlin in 1900 when he published drawings in the comic magazine Humoristische Blätter. By 1906 his surreal, humorous and skilled illustrations appeared in publications throughout Germany and the USA, but by the age of thirty five, this constantly experimenting artist would abandon this medium in favour of oil painting.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this work is on card and not on paper as stated in the catalogue.
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  1. Deborah Allan
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