ALBERT (OR ALBRECHT) SCHENCK (1828-1901)
- PAGE 03 -
ANGUISH / AGONY (c. 1878) &
THE ORPHAN (c. 1889?)
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This page has been totally rewritten as a result of being able to now show you an image of Schenck's original work Anguish, thanks to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. I include two Schenck works on this page. Why? Because their subject matter is strikingly similar & the two works are clearly related in a way that I cannot today fully understand. Read on to learn why I say that.
I now learn that the image is available via a postcard published by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. See here.
But first are they indeed of similar subject matter? I think so. And so, I think, will you. Anguish the actual painting is at left & a print of Orphan is at right. My apologies re the image at right which seems to lose a lot of detail when reduced in size - a larger image is below in excellent detail.
ANGUISH (c. 1878)
In early Dec. 2003, I received an e-mail message from a visitor to this site, Kaneda Shotaro, I believe from Australia. She advised me that the original of the Schenck work Anguish is on display at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne, Australia & commented that the original work is 'enormous and contains powerful colour that is not seen in my (then) images'. I learn that the painting has been at the NGV since it was purchased in 1880. It is, in fact, on display at the National Gallery of Victoria - International Gallery at 180 St. Kilda Road in Melbourne & is an oil on canvas of 151.0 x 251.2 cm. in size (roughly 8 x 5 ft). The NGV date the work as c. 1878 & mention the name Angoisse also - presumably Anguish in the French language. The NGV have asked me to provide the following words with the image which I do so gladly. 'August Friedrich Albrecht SCHENCK, 1828-1901, Danish, Anguish, oil on canvas, 151.0 x 251.2 cm., Purchased, 1880, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia'. The webmaster believes, however, based upon the data so far located & elsewhere on this site, that the artist was, in fact, naturalized French rather than Danish.
As you can plainly see, the sheep faces to the right! A strange thing to say, you might think, but we have a little mystery re this work which I would like to share with you. And perhaps the quickest way to show you the mystery is to next show a Schenck black & white print, also entitled Anguish.
Now I am happy to say that I now own a copy of the print which follows, but my print, at least, does not indicate the date of the work or the year in which it was first exhibited. From time to time, the print is available for sale on e-Bay, at prices which I have seen vary from U.S.$9.99 at which price I purchased my print in May 2003 through lineart (I consider myself most fortunate to have been able to do so) through a high of U.S. $52.00 in early Feb. 2003. The vendor who most often seems to have the item for sale is martin2001 of Virginia. A copy did not sell in Jun. 2005 at U.S. $22.00, but it was relisted & later sold for U.S. $28.03. Another copy sold in Sep. 2005 for U.S. $21.50. And yet another copy sold in Dec. 2005 for U.S. $30.01. I am sure that there would have been later sales also, but I have not recorded them all.
Now martin2001 stated that the picture was exhibited at the Salon in 1878 (that data is confirmed by the 1884 words on page 1). And that a writer from Figaro, wrote as follows about the work: "A lamb is wounded, lying on the ground, losing its blood, which pours out of a horrible wound. The ravens, with their infallible instinct, scent the approaching death, and await their prey: their sinister circle is closed in - the unfortunate little beast cannot escape them. The mother is there; she comprehends it, the poor creature! the fate which awaits her dear nursling, and broken-hearted, full of anguish, she bleats for the shepherd, who comes not. It is a little drama this picture, and as poignant as if it had men for actors and victims."
Beautiful words indeed and I thank Martin2001. But I have a problem with the print. The sheep faces to the left, & not to the right - as in the actual painting!
I was advised by one site visitor that on the actual print, the ewe's breath is the dramatic focus of attention, in a way that has not translated very well to the small computer screen. That may be 'in the eye of the beholder', however. The print image I have provided is, I believe, a quite good depiction of the print.
Let us now move on to a print entitled Agony, an item that comes up from time to time for sale via e-Bay. In early Jan. 2004, I find that there would seem to be at least two versions of this print. Read on .....
1) The most frequently available such item, an example of which sold on e-Bay on Dec. 8, 2002, (at U.S. $9.99) was described as being: "Wonderful antique print titled: "AGONY" by AUGUST SCHENCK, an actual plate from a rare art journal printed in 1888." Another such print for sale in Mar. 2003 stated that it was published in 1888 by Selmar Hess in 'Art and Artists of Our Time'. I was glad to learn of that fact. Here, then, is the image of the Jan. 2003 print, the better available image, very slightly sharpened, & with most of the margins deleted. I have probably not recorded all later sales of Agony, but one was sold in Dec. 2005 on e-Bay at U.S. $9.99. And another in Jul. 2006 for U.S. $9.99.
Another copy was sold also via e-Bay, (for U.S. $21.50), to the webmaster a copy of some interest. 'aahrt', the e-Bay vendor, referenced in her listing the name of Kurtz, a name new to the webmaster. 'Aahrt' advises that the print is a 'halftone' from 'Art and Artists of Our Time' and that a 'halftone' is the result of a photographic process. Further that Kurtz was the photographer who would have photographed the actual painting. And that Kurtz's signature appears in very small text in the lower right hand corner of the print. How very interesting. It particularly makes sense since we know that the image (as e-Bay listed & below) is in the correct direction of the original art work & is not 'flipped' - see the detail words elsewhere on this page re Anguish. Thank you so much aahrt!
Need I point out that the Agony print is the correct way round i.e. the sheep faces right as in the actual painting called Anguish.
2) Next however, and it is the first time the webmaster has seen such an image in a few years of searching, is a print also entitled Agony and per martin2001 the vendor the work 'was exhibited at the Salon of 1878' with descriptive words identical to those in italics above re Anguish. And here it is. Martin2001 in his item, sold in mid Jan. 2004 to a friend of this site, did not provide any data re the date of publication or where it was published. It did however indicate that the whole print is 9 x 12 1/2" in size. And the image alone is 6 x 9 2/3". Glad to know that! It does NOT look like the same print that I have just covered, does it?
My question of course is: If Agony has the work as it should be, i.e. with the sheep facing to the right, where did the name of Agony come from? Why was that Agony print not just called Anguish? And how did Anguish, the print, get published in the first place - printed backwards, as clearly must have happened? Unless there were two original Schenck works, one the mirror image of the other, which is surely most unlikely.
Now I am pleased to be able to offer here an explanation for what seems to have happened. Jean Massey of Quebec, Canada, suggests that at the end of the 19th century, the original image most likely was in the form of a large glass image. He thinks it likely that someone working in the then brand new field of art-photography unintentionally reversed the image when he prepared the work for printing. That would be quite easy to do, I would think, since he may never have seen the original painting. And also because the work does not seem to be signed by the artist, & accordingly there would have been no obvious visual signal that he 'had it backwards'. So for these & other reasons, Jean believes that the 'reverse direction' Anguish print, while still most attractive, is also an interesting technical error made 115 years ago. We thank you, Jean! If anybody else has any further thoughts on the matter, I would be happy to report them on this page. A link can be found below, where you might write to me.
Now 'aarht', whose e-Bay print store is here & who kindly provided data earlier on this page, has some interesting new views on the subject of the two different titles & the image reversal. Re the titles, she believes that if a work was originally named in a foreign language, French in this case, and that it was then to be published in another language, say English in this case, that the English publisher would entitle the print with his best effort at a translated title. And if that happened more than once there could be two or more English titles for the very same work. It would seem that the artist entitled the original work Angoisse. I may personally think that Anguish is a better English translation of that title than the word Agony but things are as they are & the title Agony was used. Aarht's view to me makes perfect sense. Do you agree? Re the reversal of direction, aarht advises that in the 1800s, in lithography, & in most types of engraving, a reverse image had to be made on a plate, or on wood or stone in order to come out with the correct image. But that new processes were later introduced that did not require that reverse image 'plate'. And that an engraver who was accustomed to reversing everything for a plate might easily make the mistake of reversing an image that already was in fact reversed! All good information indeed.
THE ORPHAN (c. 1889?)
And here is another A.F.A. Schenck photogravure, of a very similar subject, published by Gebbie & Husson Co. Ltd. re the Paris Exposition of 1889. The print is entitled The Orphan. The image itself measures 10" by 7", the entire print much bigger. What a sad, sad, image!
This print seems to be available via e-Bay only infrequently. One was sold in early Sep. 2003 by martin2001 for U.S. $24.95. Another copy sold as I update this page in Feb. 2005 at a price of U.S. $46.66. From 'sfnyartist' of Finger Lakes, New York, which seems no longer to exist. There probably were many more sales in the interval but it is difficult for the Webmaster to keep track of them.
Now when martin2001 listed The Orphan in late Aug. 2003, he used some very elegant words to describe it. And provided more data about its dating. First his fine words. "His animals' heads are veritable portraits. In the picture of The Orphan (which is a companion to Anguish, exhibited with it) the mother is dead or dying, and the ravens with their infallible instinct scent the soon-to-be carrion and close their sinister circle round the sheep and lamb. The poor living helpless lamb will hardly escape them. It is a tragedy, and as poignant as if it had a mother and child for actors and victims. There are few artists more popular than Schenck and we find the reflected judgment of the connoisseurs confirming the instantaneous verdict of the multitude."
Now his words in the brackets are of great interest to me. It would seem that both Anguish & The Orphan were exhibited together, and if those words mean "first exhibited together" as I suspect they do, both works were almost surely painted in a single year. To the Webmaster, the nature of the two works makes it likely that they were exhibited together. Martin2001 tells us that both works were exhibited in a small section of the Exposition set apart for men who declined to exhibit under any national banner, the 'International Department'. That is explained as follows: "Born in Holstein in 1828, annexed by Prussia without asking and adopted by France because he wished it, and recent discontent with the managers of the Paris exposition, caused him to exhibit as we have described." Now if they were exhibited at the same time, the dating of The Orphan must surely also be 1878 or perhaps even a bit earlier so my dating of 1889 re The Orphan is suspect. Upon checking my source, however, I find that the print which is scanned above, does say upon it in the bottom left corner 'PARIS EXPOSITION 1889'.
We have another little Schenck mystery! Especially since Anguish has been owned by the National Gallery of Victoria, of Melbourne, Australia, from 1880!
More when I get more! Maybe YOU could provide new data or could provide a clue as to where new data might be found. I would truly welcome your input.
The Webmaster's conclusion at this moment is simple. Let us simply enjoy the Schenck works, Anguish / Agony and The Orphan, all of which surely are quite magnificent!
This page will continue to expand as I find new data & images. But a reminder as always. This page and indeed the total site of which these pages are a minor part, are designed for a 1024 x 768 screen setting.
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