The young beauty and the ugly old man. She bears his proximity without further ado, but her posture betrays her discomfort: if he approached her even more, it would tip the balance: an opportunity to free herself from his grip. With this scene from an inn, Wilhelm Leibl makes his contribution to the tradition of representations of the ‘odd couple’. The artist is interested in playing off the different textures: the rose complexion of the girl against the weathered skin of the old man, the fabric of the basque against the reflecting surfaces of the vessels.
In 1902 the Museums-Verein, together with the administration of the museum, acquired one of the realist painter Wilhelm Leibel’s major works, ‘Elderly Farmer and Young Girl; The Ill-Matched Couple’ from the prince of painters, Professor Franz von Defregger. The work was painted in Upper Bavaria; the clear method resulted in a two-figure painting rich in contrast and tension. The Museums-Verein, which was founded in 1899, had already sought to purchase a work by Leibl the year before – to no avail. Now the moment had come when the Munich painting – popular around the turn of the century – was to become part of the collection of the Städel in Frankfurt. The museum association covered two thirds of the buying price of 33,000 marks.