Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Bare to the waist, the sculptor Nikolaus Friedrich (1865–1914) wields a modeling tool behind his back like a weapon. An artist colleague of Corinth’s and a fellow member of the progressive artists’ association the Berlin Secession, Friedrich holds in his raised left hand a small-scale sculpture, likely a working model for an as yet unidentified larger work later cast in bronze. Although little known today outside of Germany, Friedrich was successful in his own time. His oeuvre consists primarily of depictions of the human form in action — binding a sandal, or strenuously pulling a rope. The sculptor’s own pose here emphasizes the musculature of his back and the strength required for his work. Without his sculptor’s tools, Friedrich, whom Corinth nicknamed the “strong man,” might be mistaken for an exotic circus performer or a wrestler. The brute force used in the subject’s trade is echoed by the painterly bravado of Corinth’s own brushwork.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Lovis Corinth, German (Tapiau, East Prussia [now Gvardeysk, Russia] 1858 - 1925 Zandvoort, The Netherlands)
Portrait of the Sculptor Friedrich
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Der Bildhauer Friedrich
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1440, Modern and Contemporary Art, Secessionism: Munich, Vienna, Berlin
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
120 x 120 cm (47 1/4 x 47 1/4 in.)
framed: 138.4 x 134.1 x 5.1 cm (54 1/2 x 52 13/16 x 2 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: on recto at l.l.: Lovis Corinth pinxit 1904.
  • inscription: recto, l.l., in artist's hand: second signature, upside down, below other inscriptions "Lovis Corinth"
  • inscription: l.l., German, in artist's hand: Der Bildhauer Friedrich ["The Sculptor Friedrich"]
[Weintraub Gallery, New York]?. G. Pauly, Hamburg. Private collection, ?. Sold to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1992.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Melvin R. Seiden Purchase Fund in honor of Frederick Deknatel
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

James Cuno, ed., A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass., Spring 2000), p. 106, ill. (b/w)

Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 191

Janet Torpy, The Cover, The Journal of the American Medical Association (2010), Vol. 303, No. 14, Cover, ill (color); text p. 1344

Exhibition History

19th- and 20th-Century Paintings and Sculpture from the Museum's Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 06/11/1980 - 08/31/1980

Deutsche Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus dem Busch-Reisinger Museum, Stadtische Galerie im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, 10/23/1982 - 01/16/1983; Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin 30, 02/10/1983 - 04/17/1983; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, 05/08/1983 - 06/26/1983

Lovis Corinth Retrospective, Haus der Kunst München, Munich, 05/02/1996 - 07/21/1996; Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 08/02/1996 - 10/20/1996; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, 11/14/1996 - 01/26/1997; Tate Britain, London, 02/20/1997 - 05/04/1997

A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions from the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Central and Northern Art and Design from 1880 to the Present, Harvard University Art Museums, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 04/19/2000 - 07/09/2000

Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011

32Q: 1440 Secessionism: Munich, Vienna, Berlin (Expressionism), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

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