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Menzel the Sketcher

Adolph Menzel’s drawing supplies accompanied him everywhere, whether on a short walk or a long journey. He was always prepared to draw. One of his overcoats had eight pockets, each filled with sketchbooks of different sizes. 

On the lower Left side of his coat was an especially large pocket which held a leather case with a big sketchbook, some pencils, a couple of shading stumps, and a gum eraser. 

Bärtiger Mann herabblickend [Bearded man, looking down]. 1887.
Carpenter’s pencil on paper. 20.8 x 12.8 cm. [8.2 x 5 in.] GSS 

His personal motto was “Nulla dies sine linea” (”Not a day without aline”). He drew ambidextrously, alternating between the left and the right, sometimes on the same Drawing

If he was ever caught without drawing paper, he sketched on whatever was available, even a formal invitation to a court ball. Whenever he was spotted at a social event, the whispered word went abroad that “Menzel is lurking about.” 

Zeichender Junge, am Tisch [Boy drawing at a table]. 1837.
Pencil. 16.6 x 10.3 cm. [6.5 x 4.1 in.] KK.
Copyright © bpk/ Kupferstichkabinett/SMB 

He was known to interrupt an important gathering by pulling out his sketchbook, sharpening his pencil, casting an eye around the room, and focusing on a coat, a chair, or a hand. This sometimes brought the proceedings to a halt until he finished. 

He preferred to draw people unawares, often catching them in unflattering moments of eating, gossiping, or dozing. Once his friend Carl Johann Arnold awoke from a nap to find the artist busily drawing his portrait. “You just woke up five minutes too early,” Menzel told him. 

This is an excerpt from the Introduction of my new book on Dover. It contains 130 images, including 32 pages of color. Note: the listing on Amazon shows the incorrect cover.

Here's the link if you'd like to order a signed copy from my website store (I can ship to addresses in the USA only because of the high shipping rates overseas, sorry). If it's a gift book and you want me to sign it to someone it particular, just make a note on the order form.

Adolph Menzel: Drawings and Paintings from

This post first appeared on Gurney Journey, please read the originial post: here

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Menzel the Sketcher


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