This oil study is one of very few preparatory studies in oil for the painting Lucifer (Voss 15/276). This highly important early work was to lay the foundation for Stuck’s reputation as one of the leading symbolist artists of the period. Ferdinand I of Bulgaria, a prince of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, acquired the large-format version of the painting shortly after its completion. It is now held at the Bulgarian National Gallery in Sofia.
Stuck’s etching of the motif dates from the same period. It enjoyed widespread popularity at the time.
A portrait by Gabriel von Max depicting a former owner of the study – the distinguished Munich court actor Alois Wohlmuth – is now in the collection of the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich. The Wohlmuth collection was dispersed in 1922 and sold at auction by Hugo Helbing in Munich. The collection included a large number of works by artists of the Munich School.
An identically framed painting by Stuck is now held at the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich. According to the Stuck expert Margot Th. Brandlhuber, Head of Collections and Museum Curator, Stuck varnished the oil study in its frame in order to achieve perfect interaction between picture and frame and by blending the two, create a Gesamtkunstwerk, one unique piece of art.
Signature: Signed lower right Bearing a label on the verso reading: ‟Gemäldesammlung des Hofschauspielers Alois Wohlmuth. Kat. 265 Franz von Stuck [illegible] 3264”; vestiges of further labels on the frame.
Heinrich Voss, Franz von Stuck 1863-1928. Werkkatalog der Gemälde mit einer Einführung in seinen Symbolismus, Munich 1973, 14/275
Alois Wohlmuth, Munich
Auction Sale, Helbing, Munich, 14-16 March 1922, lot 214, plate I
Private Collection, Germany