"A face displaying such boundless and indescribable mental anguish without distortion, without wrinkles, with only the deepest tortured resignation." This is how Klinger described Nietzsche's death mask, from which he created various likenesses of the philosopher. Nietzsche had died in August 1900 in total mental derangement, before the artist was able to meet him. Commissioned by Harry Graf Kessler, Klinger created a representative, stylised marble bust, the bronze version of which was acquired by the Städel in 1910. Through the monumental herm form, Nietzsche became a key figure in the revival of the Greek aesthetic culture of antiquity.
In 1908 the Frankfurter Kunstverein staged the first Klinger exhibition in Frankfurt. The Städtische Galerie acquired one exhibit as a gift. The Kunstverein had been founded in 1829 with the aim of collectively furthering the arts. It initially regarded its primary role as supporting the Städel with the purchase of artworks. Indeed, in the early years the Kunstverein and the Städel shared premises, which in those days was still in Neue Mainzer Straße.