Otto Mueller

Standing gypsy with a child in her arms


Sheet 5 from the 9 lithograph portfolio “Zigeuner”, published by Galerie Neumann-Nierendorf, Berlin. Karsch 164 II (of II). Provenance: The artist’s estate, with the confirmed stamp of Erich Heckel on the reverse (Lugt 1829d); private collection, Southern Germany.


• Large and vividly coloured lithograph
• From the portfolio “Gypsies”, Otto Mueller’s last and most important series of prints
• An icon of Expressionist printmaking
• Unique due to the added colours The so called “Gypsy Portfolio”, as the nine-part “Gypsy” series is generally known, was Otto Mueller’s last and most important printmaking project.

Although he was already seriously ill at the time, he put a lot of effort and work into completing the lithographs. Mueller, who otherwise hardly reports on his artistic work, repeatedly mentioned working on this portfolio in letters to his wife Maschka: “I am sending you some prints this week that are finished. It’s taking longer than I thought. But I think they’ll be good.” – “I’m working hard on the coloured lithos, they’ll be very beautiful. I’ve already finished two. Have to do seven more for the portfolio. The work is something completely new to me again. When I have finished some, I will send you trial proofs” – “(…) I am working quite happily on the gypsy pictures.” (quoted from: Lothar-Günther Buchheim, Otto Mueller – Life and Work, Feldafing 1963, p. 184). Mueller had high hopes for a successful sale, which unfortunately were not fulfilled during his lifetime. After he was only able to sell a few complete portfolios, he decided to offer the sheets for sale individually. The sale of individual sheets from his estate continued even after his death. A good two thirds of the edition was housed in the estate. These sheets, like the present work, were confirmed by Erich Heckel. According to Florian Karsch’s catalogue raisonné (1974), only around 10 complete series are known to exist. Today, these “Gypsy” sheets are among Otto Mueller’s most popular and sought-after prints. The “Gypsy Portfolio” represents the highlight of his comprehensive and varied series of so-called “Gypsy motifs”. The topic moved him throughout his life, as he was convinced that he himself descended from “gypsies”. The longing for freedom and a relaxed life in harmony with nature associated with this thus characterises Otto Mueller’s entire oeuvre. The somewhat angular and brittle rendering of the subjects, which is so typical of Mueller, ensures that the works remain free of excessive sentimentality and trivialisation of the subject – rather, this sequence is characterized by a clear objectivity. This also makes it one of the most outstanding and important portfolios of German printmaking from the first half of the 20th century.

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