Studio: international art — 5.1895

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Max Klinger

etchers, under the guidance of F. Gaillard in France
and Stauffer Bern in Germany, had rejuvenated the
art of the graver. All the delicate modelling in
Mother and Child, for instance, is engraved.
Finally he has attempted mezzotint, being almost
the only German artist at present engaged in it.
At thirty-seven years of age, he has completed over
250 plates, besides about 50 lithographs and as
many designs for the wood- and photo-engraver.
These works are supplemented by a mass of draw-
ings and studies.

All this is not half of what his enormous energy
has enabled him to achieve. I will barely touch
upon what he has done as a painter and sculptor.
His first large picture, The Judgment of Paris, was
exhibited at the Third International Art Exhibi-
tion of 1888 in Munich. It did not gain many
friends at that time ; the colour was altogether un-
conventional; the frame, modelled in high relief by
the artist himself, was considered extravagant.
Moreover, instead of labelling them as is customary,
Klinger had tried to characterise the goddesses
without tagging their attributes on to them. Seven
years ago this was too great a strain upon the
public; fortunately people have grown a little
less lazy since then. This fact appeared last year,
in the course of which Klinger exhibited five large
paintings. Conventionality of all kinds is alien
to his nature. He has departed from the ortho-
dox methods of the " historical painters," with-
out becoming an extreme " plein-airist." One of
his pictures, Pheure Bleue, representing three
nymphs around a fire by the sea in the early
morning hour, when there is just light enough to
fill the damp atmosphere with a blue sheen, is a
marvel of technical skill, and reminds one of some
of Besnard's surprising feats. The picture that
has gained the greatest reputation so far is the
Pieta, now in the Dresden Gallery. It is truly
monumental: without being in anyway an imitation,
it recalls to us the works of the early Venetians.
The head of St. John is specially interesting. For
the purposes of his picture Klinger of course
identifies the Evangelist with the author of the
Apocalypse. He told me that after having one
day re-read the Revelations, he asked himself
what was the appearance of the man who wrote
those books ? And as he was musing, Beethoven
rose up before his mind's eye. The words of
the one affect him like the music of the other.
So he modelled St. John's head in the Pieta
and in the Crucifixion after Beethoven's death-
mask.

It is strange that the same man who has shown


us so convincingly that abstract ideas ought not to
be painted, should himself be engaged in an under-
taking like the huge canvas now in his studio.
The very title, Christ in Olympus, condemns it.
No doubt the juxtaposition of Grecian Mythology
and Christian Theology is a fascinating theme;
but for a philosopher, for a poet, for a draughts-
man, anybody but a painter. I believe Klinger
himself will gradually incline to this view. The
picture, not more than half finished, has remained
untouched for some time, and perhaps he will never
finish it.

Much as we may admire Klinger's paintings,
admirable as we must grant the execution of
Pheure Bleue, and of some of his smaller pic-
tures to be, his greatest achievements are not in
the art of colour. During a long sojourn in Rome,
studies from the nude model were his chief occupa-
tion, and they have converted him into one of the
best draughtsmen of Germany. This work has
directed the bent of his mind towards form rather
than colour, and the graver has supplanted to some
extent the etcher's point.

From painting he turned to sculpture. The bust,
Salome, now in the Municipal Museum of Leipsic,
is the only piece of statuary that has left Klinger's
studio so far. The dress is of grey marble; the
head and hands in white Carrara, the skin being
tinted a light cream, the hair brown; the eyes
are of Sicilian amber. It is a piece of polychrome
and polylith sculpture, such as, according to
modern research, is to be found in later antiquity.
In the Daughter of Herodias (executed a little less
than half-length, between the heads of Herod and
St. John) the artist has symbolised the type of
woman that exercises a mystic sensual power over
innocent and guilty alike ; who in the midst of all
vicissitudes never loses command over herself,
never gives but always receives, and prostitutes all
physical emotions to the exercise of superiority.
For the surfeited sinner this superiority lies in her
comparative innocence, for the wondering youth in
her comparative experience. From opposite causes
she has both types, Herod and St. John, at her
cold mercy.

In his studio Klinger shows a number of other
pieces of sculpture in progress. One is a group of
naked dancers, small bronze figures of which three
are already cast. Another is Cassandra. She is
only half-length, yet her walking motion is wonder-
fully expressed. The task upon which the artist
is at this moment engaged, is a statue of Beethoven
sitting upon a throne. The marble for this work
he brought back with him from his recent trip to
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