Max Klinger

Friedrich Nietzsche

c. 1904
Following a lengthy struggle with mental illness, the German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (b. 1844) died in 1900. In his honour, his sister established the Nietzsche-Archiv in Weimar and turned to Max Klinger, a leading sculptor, to execute a bust. Working from a death mask and photographs, Klinger produced several alternate versions, of which a monumental marble was chosen for the archive. This bust is one of three faithful cast bronze copies marketed by the artist. The black pedestal was created according to his specifications. As such, it takes the form of an ancient Greek “herm” – namely, a boundary marker with a male head (usually the god Hermes) atop a rectangular pillar.

Foundry stamp, on back at bottom: AKT = GES vorm. H. GLADENBECK u. SOHN / BERLIN = FRIEDRICHSHAGEN

1904 –
Max Klinger (1857–1920), Leipzig, Germany [1]

– 1979/12
Shepherd Gallery, New York, NY, USA [2]

1979/12 – 1999/12/06
Joey (b.1933) and Toby Tanenbaum, Toronto, Canada, purchased from the Shepherd Gallery [3]

National Gallery of Canada, given by the Robert Tanenbaum Family Trust [4]

[1] The bust was first offered for sale by the artist in 1904 through the “Kunst-Salon”, Leipzig, a gallery owned by the foundry Gladenbeck & Sohn, Berlin, which had produced three casts of the work [Dietrich, Conny and Hansdieter Erbsmehl. “Klingers Nietzsche. Wandlungen eines Portraits 1902-1914.” Weimar 2003, p. 153]. In the same year, the Leipzig Art dealer Carl B. Lorck took over the marketing of the bronze. He exhibited it at the Leipziger Kunstverein in 1907 [“Sonderausstellung zur Feier des fünfzigjährigen Geburtstags von Max Klinger. Skulpturen, Gemälde, Radierungen, ätzungen.” Kunstverein, Leipzig: February 1907, cat no. 8]. The exhibition catalogue features an advertisment by Lorck, where he offers all three casts of the bust for sale [p. 26–27]. In 1907, a version of the bust was exhibited as a German contribution to the 7th Venice Biennale [“Settima esposizione Internazionale dela Città di Venezia. Catalogo.” Venice: Ferrari, 1907, cat. no. 57; see also Dietrich 2003, p. 154] and in 1908 at the Frankfurter Kunstverein [“Klinger Ausstellung. Ein Überblick über das gesamte bisherige Schaffen Max Klingers in ausgewählten Gemälden, graphischen und plastischen Hauptwerken seiner Hand.” Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt/Main, 1908, cat. no. 114].

[2] In winter 1979, the Shepherd gallery included the bronze in the exhibition “Nineteenth Century European drawings, paintings and sculpture.” [Shepherd Gallery, New York, Winter 1979/80, cat. no 59] where the Tanenbaums purchased the piece.

[3] See note [2]. The National Gallery of Canada received the bust as a gift from the Robert Tanenbaum Family Trust on December 6, 1996 [Acquisition log, NGC curatorial file].

[4] See note [3].

Friedrich Nietzsche
c. 1904
patinated bronze
63.2 x 47.3 x 26.5 cm
Credit line
Gift of the Robert Tanenbaum Family Trust, Toronto, 1999
Accession number