Bust of a Woman (Anita Lehmbruck), 1910

Wilhelm Lehmbruck, German, 1881–1919

Bust of a Woman (Anita Lehmbruck), 1910

The Henry and Rose Pearlman Foundation, on long-term loan to the Princeton University Art Museum
photo: Bruce M. White

This sculpture demonstrates the profound influence that Michelangelo had on the young Lehmbruck. He was particularly drawn to the Italian sculptor’s image of Night, a photo of which hung on the wall of his Düsseldorf studio. Bust of a Woman has a similarly self-contained form, and the subject is also lost in thought, meditation, or simply lassitude. The work also anticipates the artist’s masterpiece, Kneeling Woman. In that work, Lehmbruck took the style of the earlier sculpture a step further into abstraction, depicting a woman with a gaunt body, stylized hair, and attenuated features. This exaggeration of form for expressive effect is a quality also evident in Michelangelo’s Night.

Wilhelm Lehmbruck, German, 1891–1919. <em>Kneeling Woman</em>, 1911. Cast stone, 176.5 x 142.2 x 68.6 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund / Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475–1564. <em>Night</em> from the Tomb of Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici, 1526–1531. Marble