Study of a sitting young Woman
  • Heinrich Zille
  • Radeburg 1858 - 1929 Berlin
  • Study of a sitting young Woman, before 1900
  • Charcoal, partly smeared, on the page of a former sketchbook
  • monogrammed on the lower left: Z.
  • 220 × 126 mm
Private collection, Berlin

Another original figure from the Berlin artistic scene around 1900 was Heinrich Zille. He received training as a printmaker as well as at the Berlin School of Arts, under the tutelage of the genre painter and caricaturist Theodor Hosemann (1807-1875). Zille first began his drawing activity, much vaunted today, as an illustrator for newspapers, and soon after the turn of the century for magazines like Simplicissimus and Jugend as well. He later provided works on several occasions for exhibitions of the Berlin Secession, and became a member of the Royal Academy in 1924.

Yet throughout his life, Zille never forgot his familial origins from the poorest of circumstances. Rather, he turned himself into the artistic advocate of the proletariat, of the so-called “Berlin Milljöh” (milieu). Hundreds of thousands of people dwelled in the most inhumane of living conditions in the notorious backyards of the all too quickly growing metropolis of the German Empire; Zille represented them again and again in confrontational images with an openly grim sense of humour. At the same time, people from all the capital city’s social classes were amused by Zille’s witty caricatures, in many cases adding their own commentary in typically crude Berlin slang.

This loose study shows a young woman in a work smock, probably engaged in cottage industry. It appears, however, to be a spontaneous drawing with only an artistic interest in the situation, without any socio-critical background.