Portrait of a Young Man

This Portrait of a Young Man had been previously restored, but its condition had continued to degrade, leading to a flaking paint film, some areas of loss, some areas where it had been hit, and a dry and weak canvas that had been cut to the painting size, which can be an indication of severe damage that was simply amputated.

New archival linen was adhered using a heat press. Besides improving the foundational strength, the heat and pressure had the added benefit of consolidating the paint film. In-painting concealed areas of loss and conservation varnish finished the restoration. A custom hand-carved Dutch Modernist frame was prepared to complete this artwork.

Based off the information on the reverse, and the subject matter, style, and color palette, we believe this to be the work of Henry Hannig (1883-1948).

Born in Hirschberg, Germany on February 27, 1883, Henry Hannig emigrated to America with his parents at the age of seven. He received his formal eduction from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts under the mentorship of Lawton Parker.  To make ends meet, he worked in industrial design and illustration.

By 1908 he was a pupil in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where students followed the traditional European drawing curriculum, beginning with the copying of master engravings and drawing after plaster casts, then concentrating on the nude figure.  Students worked toward the goal of winning various academic prizes. One of Hannig’s fellow students was Louis Ritman. Hannig’s paintings reflected the mainstream American style of the early twentieth century — broadly executed impressionism.  Like so many others, he worked with a high-keyed palette and shingle-like strokes of broken color. Consequently, the same spontaneous “on-the-spot” image is found as the basis of many of Hannig’s drawings.

Unfortunately, Hannig had no wealthy patron who might have subsidized his career and he remained dependent on his various jobs as a commercial artist. Eventually he became art editor for the South Town Economist, a Chicago newspaper.  Meanwhile, he was involved with Chicago’s German community, in the Steuben Society.  He executed pen drawings that are quite within the stylistic boundaries of illustration, yet many are more powerfully rendered than a usual illustrator’s work.  Sometimes he executed Western subjects — cowboys at work and play.

Around 1939 Hannig moved to Charleston, West Virginia to work at the Union Carbide Company. He died on December 22, 1948.

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