This portrait by the German Expressionist painter Max Pechstein shows the German Jewish businessman Alfred Hess smoking a large meerschaum pipe.

Pechstein trained in Dresden and joined the Expressionist artist group Die Brücke in 1906. He is known for his portraits, still life and landscape paintings, and as a founder of the socialist artist group Novembergruppe.

Alfred Hess (1879-1931) was a renowned art collector and owner of shoe factories in the German city of Erfurt. Pechstein painted this portrait of Hess on a visit to his house in April 1919.

The seminal exhibition ‘Mid-European Art’ at the Leicester Art Gallery in 1944 centred on works from the Hess collection. Four acquisitions from the collection (including a watercolour by Pechstein) became the founding works in Leicester’s important holdings of early 20th-century German art. This painting now rejoins them there.


Alfred Hess Collection, Erfurt;Christie's London, 4 April 1989, Lot 361.

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