Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) studied at the Kreisgewerbeschule in Passau, the Kunstgewerbe-Schule in Munich, and also at the Academy in Munich. He started out as a graphic designer and illustrator, then, inspired by Arnold Böcklin, he also began painting. In his works, fairy-tale, mythological and biblical threads intertwine. His works, dark and disturbing, with a strong erotic charge, aroused extreme emotions. In 1895 he was appointed professor at the Munich Academy, where he taught, among others, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee.
Description of the painting:
In the painting, Franz von Stuck’s striking dark eyes gaze at us. His gaze, under his menacingly furrowed eyebrows, almost hypnotizes, and his sharply curled mustache and red, boldly painted background create an expressive, almost aggressive whole.
This self-portrait fits into the characteristics of the art of this German painter. Inspired by, among others, Arnold Böcklin’s painting, Stuck painted dark, sensual, disturbing compositions, filled with fairytale, mythological and biblical scenes. The unusually strong erotic charge in his paintings aroused frequent opposition. The themes of the paintings were just a pretext to extract more topical issues from psychoanalysis and to present bodily beauty in an incredibly sculptural way. He encompassed the whole in a decorative, Art Nouveau whole. The artist is famous for his painting “Sin” depicting a naked woman entwined by a snake. Stuck repeated this composition several times in subsequent versions.
In addition to graphics and painting, Stuck was also a sculptor and architect. In the year of the creation of the self-portrait discussed here, he began the construction of his villa Stuck, the architectural form and furnishings of which, including furniture, he designed himself. He moved there with his wife, whom he married the same year. Today, Franz von Stuck’s museum is located in the villa.
Fran von Stuck was a highly esteemed portrait painter, his paintings were characterized by an almost photographic reflection of physiognomy. He also painted self-portraits quite often, from which, just like from his photographs, stern and serious eyes almost always stare directly at the viewer, though he is captured from a half-profile.
The painting from the Rogaliński Gallery is made with quick and violent brushstrokes, yet the face is distinct and faithfully reproduced. The carelessly painted red background lets through the underpainting and remains of repainting. However, the face was painted with very thin brushstrokes. The lines perfectly build the face and hair of the artist. The gaze seems sharp, piercing, not accepting defiance, not allowing to be brushed aside. On this small canvas the artist managed to achieve huge expressiveness and power of expression.
In the year the painting was created, the artist also achieved great success in his professional life. He was awarded the First Class Medal for the works exhibited at the Seventh International Art Exhibition in the Glaspalast in Munich and the gold medal at the International Art Exhibition in Dresden.
In 1895, Stuck became a professor at the Munich Academy, where he played an incredibly important role in training the new generation of artists, among whom worth mentioning are Kandinsky, Albert and Klee.