The Met releases its newest acquisition–a bust by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt–through Carol Vogel’s New York Times column:
Works by Messerschmidt rarely come on the market, and when they do, there are often many competitors vying for them. Five years ago, at Sotheby’s in New York, the Louvre beat out the Getty and the Met, spending $4.8 million for the bust of a grimacing figured called “Ill-Humored Man.” The Met bought “A Hypocrite and Slanderer” from Roman C. Herzig, a dealer with a gallery in Vienna. It had come from a private collection in Austria.
The sculpture is one of 69 character heads thought to have been created before Messerschmidt’s death in 1783. He began the series in Vienna in the late 1760s and, after what scholars believe were psychiatric problems, he moved to Pressburg, now Bratislava in the Slovak Republic. There he continued to work on the series, refusing to sell any of the pieces and even supposedly rejecting a very generous offer from Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, who wanted to buy the entire series. “It was a very personal project,” Mr. Wardropper said. “In a pre-Freudian world he serializes different states of mind.” […] With its strong, clean lines, “A Hypocrite and Slanderer” looks startlingly contemporary. “He was moving beyond neo-classicism and forecasts Minimalism,” Mr. Wardropper said. “It does resonate today in a way it didn’t 50 years ago.”
Inside Art: Metropolitan Museum Finds a Bald Man (New York Times)