Gabriel von Max

Abelard und Heloise

circa 1900-1915

oil on canvas

 

Gabriel von Max (Czech-German, 1840-1915)

 

"Abelard und Heloise" [Abelard and Heloise] [Abélard et Héloïse]

 

     circa 1900-1915

 

     oil on canvas

     41 x 36 cm (painting)

     61 x 52,1 x 6,4 cm (frame)

 

     Signed upper right: G. v. Max

     Inscribed upper left: Abelard u. Heloise


Provenance:


Sotheby's London, 19th Century European Paintings, 2003, Lot 38


thereafter, Private Collection, Bavaria

Exhibition History:


"Darwin: Kunst und die Suche nach den Ursprüngen" ["Darwin: Art and the Search for Origins"], Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Feb. 5 - May 3, 2009 


"Gabriel von Max, Malerstar, Darwinist, Spiritist," Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich, October 23, 2010 - January 30, 2011


Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, on long-term loan, October 2015-October 2020


"Les origines du monde.  L'invention de la nature au XIXe siècle" ["The Origins of the World. The Invention of Nature in the 19th Century"], Musée d'Orsay, Paris, May 19, 2021 -- July 18, 2021


Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, on long-term loan, August 2021-present


Publication History:


Pamela Kort and Max Hollein, eds., Darwin: Art and the Search for Origins [Darwin: Kunst und die Suche nach den Ursprüngen] (Cologne: Wienand Verlag, 2009) (editions in German and in English), cat. no. 140, ill. p. 198.


Karin Althaus and Helmut Friedel, eds., Gabriel von Max, Malerstar, Darwinist, Spiritist (München: Hirmer Verlag, 2010), p. 324 (full), ill. 330.


Ingebord Reichle, "Charles Darwins Gedanken zur Abstammung des Menschen und die Nütz lichkeit von Weltbildern zur Erhaltung der Art," in Christoph Markschies, et al., eds., Atlas der Weltbilder, Band 25 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2011), pgs. 318-332, ill. 3 at pg. 326.


Karin Althaus, Gabriel von Max, Von ekstatischen Frauen und Affen im Salon, Gemälde zwischen Wahn und Wissenschaft (München: Schirmer/Mosel, 2018), ill. 28, p. 79.


2038, The New Serenity, a video featuring Abelard und Heloise that was screened as part of the “Disappearing Berlin” series at the Schinkel Pavilion, Berlin (Christopher Roth, filmmaker), February 2020. See The New Serenity video on YouTube.  Team 2038 is an interdisciplinary creative group representing Germany in the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale 2020.  See Elena Ferrari, "2038, The New Serenity: Germany at The Venice Architecture Biennale 2020," Domus magazine, February 19, 2020.


Claude Blanckaert, "Le Double. Variations sur le Singe," in Laura Bossi, ed., Les Origines du Monde: L'invention de la Nature au XIXe Siecle [The Origins of the World: The Invention of Nature in the 19th Century] (Paris: Musée d’Orsay / Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal Muséum national d’histoire naturelle / Gallimard, 2020) (exhibition catalogue) (editions in French and in English), pgs. 227-243, pg. 363, illustrated on catalogue cover and also full-page ill. at pg. 241.


Laura Bossi, ed., Les Origines du Monde: L'invention de la Nature au XIXe Siecle. L'Abécédaire (Paris: Musée d’Orsay / Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal / Muséum national d’histoire naturelle / Gallimard, 2020), cover illustration.


Avant et après Darwin, Les origines du monde, L'invention de la nature au XIXe siècle, Beaux Arts Éditions (Paris: Beaux Arts & Cie, 2020), full-page ill. at pg. 5. 


Nathalie Bondil, "Gabriel von Max: 'Peintre de Singes et de Madones'," L'Objet d'Art, No. 573 (December 2020), pgs. 38-47, full-page illustration at pg. 39.

Élisabeth Couturier, "Gabriel von Max , Le Peintre du Darwinisme," Historia magazine, No. 890, February 2021, pgs. 70-71, ill.

Eric Biétry-Rivierre, "Au musée d'Orsay, le roman des origines," Le Figaro, May 20, 2021, illustrated.

Arte Mag, No. 22, May 29-June 4, 2021, ill. pg. 2

Jessica Riskin, "Nature's Evolving Tastes," The New York Review, October 21, 2021, pgs. 45-47, ill. at pg. 45.

Discussion:


In 2015, Abelard und Heloise was cleaned and conserved by the late Andrea Rothe (formerly, Senior Conservator of Paintings, Getty Museum) and Jeanne McKee-Rothe (formerly, Conservator, Norton Simon Museum).



Since October, 2015, Abelard und Heloise has been on long-term loan to The Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York. See: Memorial Art Gallery  The loan of Abelard und Heloise, dating from the last phase of von Max’s career, complements and contextualizes the Memorial Art Gallery’s relatively recent acquisition of a seminal work from the beginning of von Max’s career, “The Martyrdom of St. Ludmilla,” painted in 1864. 



Noted art dealer and Gabriel von Max specialist Konrad Bayer has called Abelard und Heloise "the best monkey painting by Gabriel Max."



The title of the painting is, of course, a reference to history’s famous star-crossed lovers of the Middle Ages, Peter Abélard and Héloïse d’Argenteuil.




"Max macht die Affen jedoch nicht lächerlich, er zeichnet sie oft liebevoll. Gerne macht er sie zum Ausgangspunkt von moralischen Erzählungen, die das Verhältnis zwischen Tier und Mensch umkehren.  In Abelard und Heloisegeht es um mehr als die Darstellung eines Liebespaars in Affengestalt. Die beiden Affen verkörpern die berühmten Liebenden, in deren Beyiehung es um intellektuelle Freihhet und die Frage der menschlichen Existenz ging. In der Darstellung scheint durch, was zu Max' wichtigsten Überzeugungen gehörte: dass Tiere, insbesondere Affen, unschuldige, reine Wesen von hoher Intelligenz sind, dies im Gegensatz zu einem Grossteil der Menschen, die Max in seinem Kulturpessimismus gerne als 'degenerierte Kulturaffen' bezeichnete." Althaus 2018 at 12-13.


["However, Max doesn't make the monkeys look ridiculous; he often draws them lovingly. He likes to make them the starting point for moral narratives that reverse the relationship between animals and humans. Abelard and Heloise is about more than the portrayal of lovers in monkeys. The two monkeys embody the famous lovers (Abelard and Heloise), whose relationship was about intellectual freedom and the question of human existence. The depiction shows what belonged to Max's most important convictions: that animals, especially monkeys, are innocent, pure beings of high intelligence, in contrast to a large part of the people, whom Max in his cultural pessimism liked to call 'degenerate culture apes.'"]  Althaus 2018 at 12-13.




"What did Darwin-era nature look like? In Abelard und Heloise (circa 1900–1915), by the Czech-Austrian painter Gabriel von Max, two capuchin monkeys hold each other in a tender embrace, wearing expressions of wistful resolution. Von Max was greatly interested in evolution, read Darwin’s works, befriended the German Darwinist Ernst Haeckel, and kept a family of capuchins at his home. Several of his paintings appeared in 'The Origins of the World' [exhibition] ...."  Riskin at pg. 47.

 

Contact:

 

Jack Daulton

The Daulton Collection

info@gabrielvonmax.com