For this work, Gerhard Altenbourg drew on a print – now a lithograph he had made of two large heads facing one another and enclosed in a subdivided roundish form. He covered this image with tiny, densely placed dots and filigree strokes. To that end, he presumably employed an extremely fine marten-hair brush of the kind otherwise used by, for example, Indian miniature painters. He thus created the effect of a multi-layered, pale golden ornamental picture. His title confronts the “mandorla” otherwise surrounding Christ – a symbol of dignity in medieval Christian art – with the vicious marten whose hairs he had used to execute the artwork.
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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