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Tettenweis 1863–1928 Munich

Franz von Stuck is one of the most celebrated German Symbolist painters and draughtsmen. As the co-founder of the Munich Secession (1892) he took a central role in German avant-garde circles. His works are emblematic of this period, but he also lived during the Weimar Republic and his influence extended to the modernist generation which he taught at the Munich Akademie, including Paul Klee (1879–1940), Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) and Josef Albers (1888-1976). His many creations have steadily been regaining critical attention and in 2013 Seattle’s Frye Art Museum presented the first monographic exhibition of Stuck’s work in the United States.

Stuck is known today for his depiction of classical mythology, exploring the stories’ underlying spirituality, psychology, eroticism and even humor. He is also, like many Symbolists, known for his representations of women as femmes fatales, frequently shown with terrifying, malevolent serpents. Like Gustave Moreau (1826–98), he returned to the same subject often; for example, he depicted Susannah six times over a twenty-year period. Throughout his career he showed great interest in experimenting with a variety of media, which led to his interest in producing comprehensive artworks, Gesamtkunstwerke. He designed matching frames for his many of his paintings, and, in what is perhaps his most complete Gesamtkunstwerk, he designed all aspects of the Villa Stuck, his own home in Munich, which is now a museum.

His early fame was cemented by the founding of the Munich Secession, a cooperation of artists rejecting the conservatism of academic painting. The first exhibition of the Secession (1893) displayed The Sin (1893), one of his most successful works and a key example of German Symbolism. His national and international careers developed almost in tandem. He was awarded a gold medal at the 1893 Chicago world fair the same year he showed The Sin. In 1909, he was also granted a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale where his Medusa (1908) was selected for acquisition by the Venetian modern art museum, Ca’ Pesaro. In line with the international success of his career, Stuck showed an awareness artistic developments both in Germany and abroad. For instance, his Wild Hunt (1899) shows the influence of Arnold Böcklin (1827–1901), while Auguste Rodin’s (1840–1917) Gates of Hell (1880–1917) were almost certainly an inspiration for Stuck’s Inferno (1908), recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


Top Auction Results for Franz von Stuck

Die sünde (The sin)
Sold $965,000 
New York, Sotheby’s, 6 November 2014, 19th Century European Art, lot 49

The dragon slayer
Sold for £605,000 ($948,275)
London, Sotheby’s, 21 May 2015, 19th Century European Paintings, lot 6

Hercules and the Hydra
Sold for £505,875 ($761,847)
London, Christie’s, 22 May 2013, 19th Century European Art Including Orientalist Art, lot 55


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