Dec 9, 2009

Portrait of a Woman in Profile, Turned to the Left

Portrait of a Woman in Profile, Turned to the Left


William Sommer

(American, 1867–1949)

Charcoal with stumping and erasure

Support: Light brown wove paper

Sheet: 50.8 x 39 cm (20 x 15 3/8 in.)

Gift of Joseph Erdelac in memory of Ed Henning 2001.110



William Sommer completed this unusually sensitive portrait drawing during his year of formal art training in 1890 at the Kunstakademie in Munich, Germany. Sommer's use of delicate gradations of charcoal to convey volume and shading are characteristic of the Munich school. Unlike many American artists, Sommer studied drawing rather than painting while in Munich---no doubt because his objective was to become a skilled commercial lithographer. Legend suggests that Sommer hoped to marry the woman he depicted in this drawing but was unable to because of his poverty. In 1907 Sommer moved to Cleveland to work for the Otis Lithograph Company. Soon after his arrival he became an enthusiastic advocate of modern art, as well as the founder of the Kokoon Klub, where Cleveland artists could draw from the model and exchange new ideas. The Cleveland Museum of Art owns many of Sommer's modernist works, but this is the first drawing in the collection to represent his earlier, academic style.

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