Adolph Menzel

These expressively charged studies stem from a trip that Menzel made to Italy in 1881. Rather than visit more popular destinations like Florence or Rome, the artist traveled to Verona, where he filled sketchbooks with firsthand studies of the characters and bustle of the city’s main market. Back in Berlin, Menzel used this visual repository as the basis for more elaborate drawings such as this one, made in preparation for his painting Piazza d’Erbe in Verona. The sheet is a superb example of Menzel’s mature style and his virtuosic control of the pencil, with which he was able to alternate fluently between broad, dynamic contour and refined details, confidently smudging the soft graphite to establish finely graded shadows.

Adolph Menzel
German, 1815–1905
Studies of a Crouching Man with Hammer and Chisel, 1883
Graphite pencil
Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, INV. NO. C 1886-10
© Kupferstich-Kabinett, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden
Photo: Herbert Boswank