Work on Paper
Lithograph on laid paper, hand-coloured with coloured crayon
33.5 x 25.6 (cm)
13.2 x 10.1 (inch)Signed lower right.
The lithograph is one of only four known prints, possibly the only hand-coloured print Karsch 78 Apart from painting, Otto Mueller found his favourite medium in lithographic printing. It was also a medium he mastered perfectly, since he had completed an apprenticeship as a lithographer prior to studying at the art academy. Women and lovers, mostly surrounded by nature, were his preferred motifs. But he rarely created recognizable features; he usually de-personalized the faces and reduced the bodies to gender-typical characteristics, which he drew with a few essential lines. Even though the author of the catalogue raisonné believes that the artist himself printed 12 exemplars of this lithograph, there are only 4 known prints. The print has another peculiarity - it was coloured by the artist himself using crayon. Mueller sometimes coloured the first print, rarely the second as well, thereby heightening their appeal and delicateness. in looking at the present work, the viewer has the impression of witnessing a very intimate moment. The year 1919, in which the work was presumably created, was an important one for Mueller in many respects: Paul Cassirer presented Mueller's first solo exhibition in his Berlin gallery, he was appointed to a professorship at the Breslau art academy, and he and his wife Maschka separated, she remained in Berlin. The most momentous occurrence however awaited him in Breslau, where the 45 year old artist fell in love with the 17 year old student Irene Altmann. He wanted to divorce Maschka and marry her, but this plan was foiled by her father. Nevertheless, in the two years of their relationship, Otto Mueller created some of his most expressive paintings and prints.