Fritz von Uhde
Wolkenburg 1848 – 1911 Munich
Holländische Nähstube. 1882
Oil on canvas. Relined. 101,5 × 136,5 cm. (40 × 53 ¾ in.) Signed upper right: F Uhde.  Framed
ProvenancePrivate Collection, England (1886) / L. Christ Delmonico, New York (1893) / Museum of Fine Arts, Saint Louis (acquired 1894, presumably until 1982) / Private Collection, Germany
EUR 40.000 – 60.000
USD 44,900 – 67,400
ExhibitionCatalogue illustré du Salon. Quatrième année. Paris, Salon, 1882, cat. no. 2557 (titled „Les couturières“) / Katalog der [...] Kunstausstellung. Dresden, Königliche Akademie der bildenden Künste, 1889, 6. ed., cat. no. 372 (titled „Näherinnen“) / Catalogue. Loan Exhibition. New York, Fine Arts Society Building, 1893, p. 49 (Paintings. Modern Masters), cat. no. 127 (titled „Sewing-Bee in Holland“) / Loan Collection. Foreign Masterpieces owned in the United States. Chicago, World's Columbian Exposition, 1893, cat. no. 119 / Official catalogue. Part X. Art Galleries and Annexes. Department K. Fine Arts, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Decoration. Chicago, World's Columbian Exposition, 1893, cat. no. 2985 / Eleventh Annual Exhibition. Catalogue of the Art Department, Illustrated. Saint Louis, Saint Louis Exposition and Music Hall Association, 1894, cat. no. 467, ill. p. 20 / Official Catalogue of Exhibitors. St. Louis, Universal Exposition, 1904, p. 70, no. 18
Literature and IllustrationF(ranz) Reber: Fritz von Uhde. In: Die Kunst für Alle, vol. 1, 1885/86, issue 16, 15.5.1886, p. 219-223, here p. 220 / Amedée Pigeon: Le mouvement des arts en Allemagne. In: Gazette des Beaux-Arts, vol. 37, 1888, p. 251-259, here p. 258 / N. N.: Die akademische Ausstellung zu Dresden. In: Die Kunst für Alle, vol. 5, 1889/90, issue. 2, 15.10.1889, p. 26-28, here p. 26 / Otto Julius Bierbaum: Fritz von Uhde. München, E. Albert & Co., 1893, p. 35 and 74 / P. Hann: New-Yorker Kunstbericht. In: Die Kunst für Alle, vol., 1892/93, issue 17, 1.6.1893, p. 260-262, here p. 262 / Richard Muther: Geschichte der Malerei im XIX. Jahrhundert. 3 vol. Munich, G. Hirth's Kunstverlag, 1893/94, here vol. 3, p. 637 / Brockhaus Konversationslexikon. Leipzig/Berlin/Wien, F. A. Brockhaus, 14. ed 1894-1896, here vol.16, p. 40 (see „Uhde“) / Antoine de La Mazelière: La peinture allemande au XIXe siècle. Paris, Plon-Nourrit et Cie., 1900, p. 329 / Franz Hermann Meissner: Fritz von Uhde. Berlin/Leipzig, Schuster & Löffler, 3rd vol. 1900, p. 41-42, ill. p. 21 / Friedrich von Boetticher: Malerwerke des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts. 4 vol. Third, unmodified reprint, Hofheim am Taunus, H. Schmidt & C. Günther, 1979 (first Fr. v. Boetticher's Verlag, Dresden 1891–1901), here 2nd vol. (second half), p. 907, no. 8 / Fritz von Ostini: Uhde. Bielefeld/Leipzig, Verlag von Velhagen & Klasing, 1902 (= Künstler-Monographien, ed. by H. Knackfuß, vol. LXI), p. 25-26 / Official Illustrations of Selected Works in the Various National Sections of the Department of Art. St. Louis, Universal Exposition, Art Palace, 1904, double-sided ill. before p. 31 / Anton Springer and Max Osborn: Handbuch der Kunstgeschichte. V. Das 19. Jahrhundert. Leipzig, Verlag von E. A. Seemann, 3rd vol. 1906, p. 321 (ill. of Uhdes pen drawing of his painting) / Hans Rosenhagen (ed.): Uhde, des Meisters Gemälde in 285 Abbildungen. Stuttgart and Leipzig, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1908 (= Klassiker der Kunst, 12th vol.),ill. p. 35 / Philip Skrainka: St. Louis: Its History and Ideals. St. Louis 1910, p. 90 and 98 / Richard Hamann: Die deutsche Malerei im 19. Jahrhundert. Leipzig and Berlin, Verlag von B. G. Teubner, 1914, p. 322 / Catalogue of Paintings. Saint Louis, City Art Museum, 1915, p. XI, ill. p. 172, p. 195, no. U I, and p. 228 / Wilhelm Waetzoldt: Deutsche Malerei seit 1870. Leipzig, Verlag von Quelle & Meyer, 1918, p. 9 / Richard Hamann: Die deutsche Malerei vom Rokoko bis zum Expressionismus. Leipzig and Berlin, Verlag von B. G. Teubner, 1925, p. 415 / Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker (ed.): Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. 37 vol. Leipzig, Verlag E. A. Seemann, 1907–1950, here vol. 33, 1939, p. 546 / Anne Mochon: Fritz von Uhde and plein-air painting in Munich, 1880–1900. New Haven, Yale University, Phil. Diss., 1973, p. 57 / Ludger Alscher a.o. (ed.): Lexikon der Kunst. 5 vol. Leipzig, VEB E. A. Seemann, 1968-1978, here vol. V, 1978, p. 298 / Versteigerungskatalog. Detroit, DuMouchelles, 21.5.1982, cat. no. 1 / Bettina Brand: Fritz von Uhde. Das religiöse Werk zwischen künstlerischer Intention und Öffentlichkeit. Heidelberg 1983 (= Heidelberg, Univ., Phil. Diss., 1978), p. 6, 29 and p. 232, note 60 / Albert Peter Bräuer: Fritz von Uhde. Dresden, VEB Verlag der Kunst, 1985, p. 7 / exh. cat.: Fritz von Uhde. Vom Realismus zum Impressionismus. Bremen, Kunsthalle; Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste, and Munich, Neue Pinakothek, 1998/99, p. 78, mentioned and shown under cat. no. 8 (not exhibited), and p. 192 / E. Bénézit a.o.: Dictionary of Artists. 14 vol. Paris, Editions Gründ, 2006, here vol. 13, p. 1330
Towards the end of the 19th century, a period of growth and industrialization, there were many in Europe who began to voice opposition against the power of machines and the new system of serial production. The associated nostalgia for the quality of work done by hand also became a common theme in paintings from the period, with the motif of the seamstress enjoying particular popularity. Artists like Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Vuillard, Max Liebermann and, in this case, Fritz von Uhde all tried their hand at this beloved subject matter. During this time, genre painting, which had first flourished in the Netherlands in the 17th century, was enjoying a revival. As a consequence, staged scenes of daily life, along with attendant details such as the texture of fabrics and the play of light, received renewed attention from the open-air painters of the 19th century, who depicted them in novel ways.
Fritz von Uhde’s Dutch Sewing Room from the year 1882 merges a genre interior scene with the seamstress motif. The four women in the foreground of the oil painting sit around a table in a brightly lit parlor, silently engrossed in their sewing. One of them looks up from her work and turns towards a standing woman partly cut off by the left-hand frame. On the picture’s right-hand side, we can peer into a side room where another seamstress works at a table surrounded by white fabrics. The viewer’s gaze ranges over the individual pictorial elements: the figures, the jug with its reflected flickers of light that stands on the wall-mounted cupboard, as well as the bird cage, the floral arrangements, the cat, the shoes, and the bunches of white cloth. The composition is akin to a still life in which each element is carefully placed yet seems to vanish into the whole – just as each individual figure seems to recede into the collective working group. Sewing implies creating something new or repairing something old – in this sense, the activity of sewing can also be understood metaphorically as a striving for wholeness and healing. Uhde’s painting aims to achieve specific coloristic effects, moreover: The sunlight streaming through the window not only lights up the interior and throws ribbons of light onto the walls but also gives a bright sheen to the linens scattered throughout the room. In addition, the window allows us to look out into nature, thereby connecting the exterior and interior worlds.
Uhde, who is best known today for his tableaus of “ordinary” life as well as for his religiously themed works and child portraits, came to painting via a circuitous path. After a year of study at the Dresden Art Academy, he embarked upon a ten-year military career as a commissioned officer. Having failed in his attempts to train with Hans Makart in Vienna and with Carl Theodor von Piloty in Munich, he decided to take charge of his own artistic development, making a careful study of the works of Old Dutch Masters hanging in various museums. In 1878 he traveled to Paris, where he spent two years working in the studio of the Hungarian artist Mihály von Munkácsy, who was loosely associated with the Barbizon School. From 1880 onwards, Uhde lived in Munich. Here, he got to know Max Liebermann and co-founded the Munich Secession (1892), becoming its first chairman in 1899. He was eventually appointed to a teaching chair endowed by the King of Bavaria at the city‘s Kunstakademie. Uhde became a widower early on and had to assume sole responsibility for raising his three daughters, who often served as inspirations for his paintings.
The painting Holländische Nähstube, however, was supposedly inspired, at least in part, by paintings of seamstresses done by Uhde’s colleague Max Liebermann that he had seen prior to travelling, on Liebermann’s advice, to Holland in 1882 in order to study the motifs on-site. Uhde exhibited this painting at the Paris Salon and garnered positive reviews. Along with Max Liebermann, Lovis Corinth, and Max Slevogt, Fritz von Uhde today is regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Impressionist movement in Germany. While the French Impressionists, who served as role models for the painters of German Impressionism, preferred to paint en plein air, the Germans liked to paint interiors as well. What both groups had in common was their keen interest in the atmospheric effects of light. (Marie-Amélie zu Salm-Salm)
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