Conrad Kiesel, who was born in Düsseldorf in 1846, studied architecture and sculpture (the latter under Fritz Schaper) before turning to painting (under Fritz Paulsen in Berlin and Wilhelm Sohn in Düsseldorf). He was active mainly in Berlin and Munich, and won numerous awards not only in Germany, but also in Paris, Vienna, London and Rome. Kiesel was a member of the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s and 1880s, which believed in 'Art for Art's sake', or the idea that art could be simply pleasing to the eye, rather than based on narrative, according to the academic teaching of the day. The artists often deliberately selected anonymous models, loosely draped in quasi-classical robes, with flowers in their hair, with the intention of creating a timeless beauty. The female figure in this painting is cast in the role of a flower seller, but the subject matter is almost incidental and the eye is drawn to the contrasting colours, textures and patterns, rendering the overall effect mainly decorative. The Arabic on the tiles in the background lends an air of eastern exoticism, although the other motifs (ivy, marguerites and crown of laurel) are European.
unframed: 119.7cm x 78.4cm
framed: 154.3cm x 112.9cm
Place of creation
Mr James Thomas Blair bequest, 1917.
© Manchester Art Gallery