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Introduction: The Friedrich Wahle Project

This last Fall, I finally took the leap from lover of art history to art owner.  The piece is beautifully executed with a cool palette and impressionistic brushwork.  I was really drawn to the unusual, but clearly narrative subject matter.  Unfortunately, there was very little information available about the work or its artist.  I have therefore taken it upon myself to turn this painting into a little research project.

The oil on board painting was done by Friedrich Wahle.  A quick pre-auction search told me that Wahle was born in 1863 in Prague and died in 1927 in Munich.  He worked mainly as an illustrator.  The date and title of my painting are unknown.  (For the sake of the sale, it was titled “The Discourse”.)

The goals of this project seem pretty clear:

1. Biography – Friedrich Wahle is not a well known artist.  I’d like to know more about his life, education, artistic influences and employers.

2. Develop a Catalog – Since I can’t find much information about his portfolio, I would like to build an authoritative Wahle catalog.  I’ll start with auction records and published records of his paintings.  I’m really curious to see how this piece fits into his body of work.  Is the subject matter, size, style, color scheme, etc. of “The Discourse” typical?  Did he even have a “style” or as an illustrator did Wahle adjust for the commission?  How many paintings did he create?  There are a lot of open questions here.

3. Find “The Discourse” – Looking at the two men in fine clothing talking, I can’t help but think that there is a story behind this.  Since Wahle was an illustrator, there may very well likely be an actual “story” or text that accompanies the painting.  I would be thrilled to find “The Discourse” printed in a book or periodical!

I plan to document my findings here as the Friedrich Wahle Project.  I’m excited  to dust off my researcher hat and hoping to find some interesting things!

***UPDATE: You can read all my subsequent Wahle discoveries by clicking here.***

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Please do keep us posted! Provenance research is so thrilling!



    March 23, 2012
    • Thanks! This is a really fun project for me and I will definitely be posting more about it!


      March 24, 2012
  2. t #

    Great project! And a really lovely painting. Funny how little we know about the “low art” of illustration. Honestly the only one I’ve ever seen in museum is N.C. Wyeth!


    July 3, 2012
    • Thanks! I’ve been enjoying this project. As obscure as I think Fritz Wahle or Fliegende Blatter is sometimes, I am amazed had how beautiful the art is. It’s also interesting to see that he and other artists used illustrations as a means of support while producing more avant garde works for exhibition.

      And you’re very right to bring up N.C. Wyeth! He and Norman Rockwell really elevated what it means to be an illustrator!


      July 8, 2012
  3. Tim #

    Just been researching Wahle too as this piece came up on a site I buy art from. Thought you might be interested Shtina –
    Cheers, Tim


    September 25, 2012
  4. Tim #

    Try this L


    September 25, 2012
    • Very cool! I hadn’t seen this one, thank you for posting the link! Stylistically and thematically it looks like Wahle. I’ve found lots of “gentlemen talking” images in print but not this one yet. I’ don’t really have 1,000euro laying around for it, but we’ll see if it goes that high.


      September 25, 2012

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