A Met-exhibited artwork by the influential German Secessionist painter Franz von Stuck (né Franz Stuck, 1863-1928) has been rediscovered after being out of public sight for more than a century.
Titled Lauschende Faune (Listening Fauns), the circa-1899 oil-on-panel with a distinguished history of museum exhibition is now known to have spent the last 60 years in a Kansas City residence. There, it was displayed by two consecutive generations of the same family, who were unaware of its background or true value. Soulis Auctions has been selected to sell the painting, without reserve, on the family's behalf. It will be offered in a September 23 gallery auction, with Internet bidding through LiveAuctioneers.
Until now, Lauschende Faune, whose alternative title is Belauscht (translation: "overheard" or "eavesdropped on"), had been published in black and white only, first appearing in the German art journal Die Kunst in 1904. In 1909 it was depicted in The International Studio - An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art as part of a nine-page article by Christian Briton titled, "The Collection of Hugo Reisinger: German and American Pictures."
Also in 1909, the painting was exhibited for seven weeks at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Remains of the label from that exhibition remain on verso. The exhibition's catalog identified it as being the property of Hugo Reisinger, a banker, businessman and prominent art collector who was married to the daughter of St Louis brewery baron Adolphus Busch. Reisinger was also a member of The Met's board of directors at the time.
Later that year, Lauschende Faune was exhibited at both the Chicago Institute of Art and the Copley Society in Boston; but after that its next known museum appearance wasn't until 1919, when it was displayed at the Dallas Art Association's First Annual Exhibition: Contemporary International Art.
"The ten-year hiatus was almost certainly attributable to the effect World War One had on German art in general," said Dirk Soulis, owner of Soulis Auctions. "There can be no other explanation, because in 1909, Stuck was at the pinnacle of his career. He was famous as the cofounder of the Munich Secession, had won a Gold Medal at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, and even was awarded the Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown in 1906. He was also in demand as a teacher, with students like Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers. But even years after World War One ended, German art remained unfashionable and never had time to recover because of Germany's aggressive role in World War Two."
For the next 100 years, the painting was neither exhibited nor published. No one knew where the painting was located or who owned it until 2021, when it was rediscovered in the Kansas City mansion of the late Colonel and Mrs. S D Slaughter.
The painting is presented in its original gilt frame custom-crafted by Hans Irlbacher of Munich, with the atelier's label on verso.
Lauschende Faune (Listening Fauns) will be auctioned without reserve on September 23, 2022, with a pre-sale estimate of $75,000-$125,000. The minimum opening bid is $50,000. Bid live online through LiveAuctioneers.
For additional information, call 816-697-3830 or email Dirk@SoulisAuctions.com. Soulis Auctions is located at 529 West Lone Jack Lee's Summit Rd., Lone Jack, MO 64070. Online: www.soulisauctions.com.