In this erotic etching, listed German artist Franz Paul Glass ( 1886 - 1964 ) shows a Chinese man with a long queue and wearing traditional pajamas deep in the thrall of an opium dream. He glances at us over his shoulder, his face dramatically lit by his luminous visions which rise in a thick cloud of smoke, lovely naked women approach him, one prostrates herself at his feet. But if you look closely, beyond the delightful women are crowds of less welcome faces, grotesque masks and frightening visages … lost souls, the nightmares that come with time if one persists in the pursuit of the poppy. The piece has the look of an early noir film.
Glass was raised in Germany during the turn of the 19th C into the 20th C, a time of great flowering of the arts in Europe; in Germany specifically, the Jugendstil which featured Art Nouveau design, flourished. Glass spent a couple of formative years in Italy before returning to Munich to establish himself as a painter, illustrator, graphic designer, and typographer. In 1914 and then again in 1924, Glass and a group of fellow artists formed a group known as 'The Six,' with the aim of self promotion. One of his most enduring legacies was the creation of many fonts that bear his name and are still in wide use today,
Opium has always been a subject of fascination. Known as a food since ancient times, its recreational use in China began in the 15th C and continued despite prohibitions, spurred by British trade and culminating in The First Opium War (1839–1842), after which the habit spread even more rapidly due to domestic Chinese production. By the late 19th C, Opium had begun its spread to Europe and North America, often ingested by means other than smoking. Laudanum is Opium mixed with alcohol and was in widespread use in Europe and the US by the turn of the 20th C, a component of many popular Patent Medicines commonly available without prescription. However, Opium smoking has always been associated in the western mind with the Chinese, as this fantastical and intriguing etching by Franz Paul Glass illustrates.
CONDITION is grand. The etching is signed at the lower right, and titled (illegibly) at the lower left … if you can decipher the title which I presume is in German, please send me an email, I'd love to know what it says. The plate mark is clearly visible inside the mat. The piece is beautifully framed in a black wooden frame with an inner gold edge, under the glass the piece is matted with a neutral linen mat with an additional gold filet, a luxe touch. The frame show minor, expected wear. Measures 23" x 18" overall, with a sight size of 16 5/8" x 12" inside the mat.
Please enjoy responsibly!
I also have an original, signed erotic goauche by Glass, if you'd like to take a look, it's item RL-1048