The miniatures were painted by various famous artists of the time: Adolf Menzel, Leon Pohle, Anton von Werner and Anna Peters to name but a few.
Albert Loewe, a Berlin City councilor, who started collecting in 1860 and continued until the death of his wife in 1886, assembled during this time over 200 of these small oil paintings. What is to be seen reflects the bourgeois taste of the period with its preference for nature, family and inwardness. Among the beautiful portraits of children and women, one depicts a young girl whose subject casting a spell:
The Italian Girl (1884), by Ludwig Johann Passini, is roughly ten years old. Her hair is long and brownish, her eyes dark. Lost in her thoughts she seems completely unaware of her beholders. Her absent look with a slightly open mouth presents a state of deep absorption particular to this age. It seems to be reserved for infancy solely. The Italian Girl’s portrait has only the size of a post stamp. Her striking liveliness is captured on 2 x 2 inches of cardboard
Her vibrancy stands out against Friedrich Wasmann’s beautiful portrait of Paul, Maria and Filomena von Putzer (1840) also exhibited at Small Masterpieces.
The elder children Paul and Maria are about the same age as the Italian Girl. The youngest daughter Filomena is a few years her junior. The three children are standing in front of the Tirol Mountains. Their portrait is build strictly from the painting’s outlines. In its making it is reminiscent of old German master paintings. But the most striking feature of Wasmann’s work are the bright colors he used: carmine red, deep blue, white and green clothes are catching the eye. While the boys’ and girl’s facial expressions are more typecast than individual, the colors are what brings the painting to life. They look as if the fresh mountain air, which is apparently coloring the brothers’ and sisters’ cheeks, has brightened them as well.
On display till the 11th of march 2018, so not very much time left to experience these exquisite miniatures!
Friedrich Wasmann, Paul, Maria und Filomena von Putzer, 1840
Öl auf Leinwand, 37 x 49 cm
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie / Andres Kilger
Author: Rebecca Hoffmann