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 Unequal 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.
Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.
The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.
Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:
The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.
Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.
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