Franz von Stuck (I) – A powerful view on the myth of Genesis

Quite often, some of the best artists in history are not acknowleged as such; or at least, not by the general public. The case of Franz von Stuck (1863 – 1928), a German painter, sculptor, engraver, and architect, may be due to the deep admiration that Adolf Hitler developed toward his work… (of course, there is the counterexample of Wagner as a composer; since he was another Hitler’s favourite). I don’t really know, but anyway, Franz Stuck was truly good, and it seems that nowadays he is recovering the recognition he deserves.

I will dedicate two posts to his work. This first one deals with four very peculiar oils related to the Book of Genesis.

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Adam und Eva (Adam and Eve)

This is an exquisitely daring representation of the “original sin”. The bright red fruit is presented to the first man by Eve and the Snake jointly: her arm and the body of the beast are like a reflection of each other; her hand and the beast’s head figuring the lower and upper jaws of the same open mouth. This seems masterly to me; as well as the seductive, really sexy and tempting pose, grin and attitude of the “Mother” of us all 🙂 : a hand on the hip, bright red hair, red lips as if wearing rouge… The contrast of her paleness with Adam’s yellowish skin and the royal-blue, glowing like enamel, snake against an almost uniform black background is as weird and striking as the story itself.

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Adam und Eva (1920-28 – oil on canvas, )

[Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main, Germany]

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Die Sünde (The Sin)

It depicts Eve alone with a huge serpent wrapped around her pale and bluish body. In the upper right corner is a bright reddish field, as in fire, while Eve’s face and the rest of the surroundings are dark.

Stuck made twelve known versions of the painting. Some of these can be viewed at the Neue Pinakothek in Munich (the best one, which I show here), the National Gallery in Berlin, the Galleria di arte Moderna in Palermo, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle.

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Die Sünde (1893 – oil on canvas, 94.5 × 59.5 cm)

[Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany]

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Der Wächter des Paradieses (The Guardian of Paradise) – 1889

Luzifer (Lucifer) – 1890

Those are two powerful depictions of angels (first, one among the Highest, and then, the leader of the Fallen – and most famous of them all).

“The Guardian of Paradise” was Stuck’s first large oil painting (and large indeed it is). It was entered into the 1889 art exhibition in Munich, where it won a gold medal and 6000 Mark. It became a breakthrough for Stuck and made him a recognised painter.

“Lucifer”, depicts a very “human” (though darkly winged and fiercely eyed) Devil, fallen to the depths of Hell. Ferdinand I of Bulgaria bought at once the painting for the royal collection in Sofia, where it is nominally still located – However, being one among the best known pieces of all 19th century German art, it spends more time travelling around the world (It has become, so to speak, ubiquitous as the very character figured in it).

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[Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany]

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Luzifer (1890 – oil on canvas, 152.5 x 161 cm)

[The National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia, Bulgaria]

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6 thoughts on “Franz von Stuck (I) – A powerful view on the myth of Genesis

  1. Some very heavy use of dark pigments in the other paintings make the Guardian even more incandescent. His Sin painting could be the basis for Nagini – but oh my, I don’t think he thought much of women!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I entirely agree with your points. Anyway, regarding the last one, I think Stuck was just faithful to the blatantly misogynistic contents of the Bible. The Greek myths are somewhat more equilibrated, but the Hebrew myths are really toxic about women.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s one of those things that sort of boggles the mind, the toxic mythology r/e women. You don’t get to be a big, bad, tool swinging, man without a woman to birth you and women to birth your offspring…. TO say nothing of all the other things that women were responsible for at the time. I’m never going to understand this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neither do I (or, better thought: I do :)) )
      In fact, the older I am (and right today I’m a another damned year older !!) the lesser I like a large percentage of men. Were it not for this “swinging tool” you’ve mentioned (LOL!!!!) I would definitely approach and date ONLY women, bigendered and agendered persons. But my flesh is weak and so, I’m so hooked and strayed and fallen.
      ((((HUGS))))

      Liked by 2 people

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