Monday, February 15, 2016

The Last Statement in Front of the Police Officer (1886)

Title: Die Letzte Aussage (The Last Statement)
Artist: Arthur Kampf
Date: 1886

While still a student at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Arthur Kampf produced a painting that caused a real stir on account of its size coupled with its theme. The subject of controversy in the dailies and the trade journals, the work won many prizes and, after first going on display in 1886 was very popular and laid the foundations for his career. The socially critical depiction of a man fatally injured, whose last statement is being jotted down by a policeman as he lies dying, was firmly in the tradition of ‘painting poor people’ that emerged in the second half of the 19th century. The artist to great effect intermingles the scene of the realistically portrayed man dying with representational motifs drawn from Christian art, constructing a pictorial space with life-size figures. One stands opposite them and becomes the witness of the dramatic events. From the 1890s onwards, Arthur Kampf emerged as one of Germany’s most important history painters of his day, and his works were widely received in Germany through 1945. (Sabine Schroyen)

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