Gabriel Cornelius Von Max
Czechoslovakian / German, 1840–1915
The Critics, early 1890s
Oil on canvas
33 x 41 3/4 inches
Gabriel von Max painted some of the most controversial subjects in Europe during the late nineteenth century, from anatomical dissections, to religious scenes of crucifixions, and monkeys performing human activities. While von Max’s religious paintings earned him a particular status among art critics, he simultaneously worked on paintings of monkeys, which at the time was considered an inferior genre. Von Max acquired his first capuchin monkey in 1870, and later bred the animals at his Munich home near Starnberger Lake.
One of von Max’s most famous paintings depicting monkeys is titled, Affen als Kunstrichter (Monkeys as Art Critics). It was completed in 1889 and acquired that year by the Neue Pinakotech in Munich. In fact, the artist painted several versions after the success of the original painting. The present example, The Critics, is one of four known paintings executed after the original.