Stuck, Franz von (1863 – 1928)
Franz Stuck – to become the aristocrat Franz von Stuck in 1906, created some of the best known images in the Symbolist Art of the 1890s, the turn of the century, and even on until the 1920s. He was based in Munich, studied at the Munich Art Academy in the early 1880s and was a founding member of the Munich Secession in 1892. His particular imagery, which often draws upon mythological scenes and with a notable interest in the femme fatale, (his Salome of 1906 is perhaps the most ‘fatale’ of them all), has a content and style which may well have influenced some of the more contemporary art of the fantasy comic and the heavy metal album cover. Von Stuck’s painting frequently expresses an underlying tale of high drama, executed with bold imagery and strong use of colour.
There is a marked expressionist element in his work with a liberal attitude to form and colour – his paintings can surge with energy, though his subject matter and pre-occupation with the imagination and the stuff of exotic and erotic dream place him firmly with the Symbolists, whilst the bold and expressionistic approach provide a marked German character to his place within this oevre.
Von Stuck is the creator of some of the darkest and most provocative images of the period – a number of versions of the female nude with serpent such as ‘Sin’ (1893) (we have such an etching here – Franz von Stuck Die Sinnlichkeit or Sensuality ) and one of the most striking portrayals in Symbolist Art, that of the solitary and deeply brooding ‘Lucifer’ (1890), which was also produced as an etching that we have on our website – Franz von Stuck etching Lucifer. He made few etchings and these are highly collectible.
In being a landscape, his etching, ‘Trout Pond’ differs from his usual subject matter. The scene, though, retains the Symbolist aims of stimulating the imagination of the viewer. In fact, it could be argued that it is a particularly Symbolist work with its air of mystery and the suggestion of what lies below the surface – Here, the vague shape and movement of the large fish representing the imaginative and mystical ideas that lie just beneath the level of consciousness – Franz von Stuck etching Trout Pond (Forellenweiher). The print is based on a painting he made whilst staying in the artist colony of Osternberg.
The overall subject matter of his art changed little during the maturity of his career and even just after the first world war he was still painting fauns and nymphs. In the 1920s his interest increasingly turned to sculpture. He died in 1928 after a career of great success which included the award of the Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Merit of the Bavarian Crown which in 1905/6 elevated him to the aristocracy.