Oil on canvas, 40 1/2" by 32", in thin wood frame, signed at lower right and dated "57" by important twentieth century German artist ERNST FRITSCH (1892-1965), an artist mentioned in the same sentences as Bruno Krauskopf, Dix, Grosz, and other German art world giants of the twenties. Fritsch was born in Berlin and died there, and in between made a permanent mark on the art scene. He had joined the Berlin Secession in 1919, after having served in World War I. During the twenties he was associated with the "Neue Sachlichkeit" ("New Objectivity") movement. Paintings from that period are most often encountered today in the art market. These are images of petty, big city bourgeois residents, with the pig-like faces seen in works by George Grosz, Otto Dix, and other artists of the time. These paintings have brought to $25,000 area in auctions. The later works by Fritsch, which can be quite modern indeed, even abstract, seem to be rather less often seen. Some paintings were confiscated and destroyed by the Nazis in 1937. Fritsch was a prisoner of war, held by the Americans, during WWII. After the war, his style changed to a symbolic surrealism, and images were most often "abstract dreams and melancholy fantasies", as one internet site stated. Clearly the present work is in that style. The painting is charged with a powerful symbolism. The meaning of what we see here, with the crucified Christ figures looking more like frogs in a school dissection lab, is open to the viewer's interpretation. One web site mentions that much of his work was preserved by his wife, who died in 1991, and his "Nachlass" (studio of work) went to the Berlinische Galerie. Today many museums and distinguished private collections contain work by this artist. CONDITION is excellent, with the painting well preserved, clean, and stable, the materials used having been of excellent quality. There is some stretcher bar show-through at top and horizontally across the middle. The painting came from an American collection in Jacksonville, Florida.
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