Heinrich Maria Staakmann (1852 – 1940)
Preparing for Battle
Oil on Canvas
Signed and dated 1888 and inscribed München
29.1 x 55.1in, 74 x 140 cm
The German Orientalist painter Heinrich Maria Staakmann was born in Zennhusen and studied at the Munich Academy from 1870 until 1873. He travelled to North Africa, notably Algeria and Egypt, following in the footsteps of the notable Orientalist painter L.C. Muller, who had influenced him when he was in his atelier. Staakmann found a wealth of subject matter which inspired him to paint many paintings over a period of forty years, notably “Entrance to Khartoum”, which was one of a number of works which his agent, Arthur Tooth exhibited successfully in London at his gallery which was noted for Orientalist paintings by artists such as Charles Wilda, Frank Xavier Kosler and L.C. Muller. He was recommended by Mr Arthur Tooth to exhibit in Manchester at his friend, J.J. Rowe’s new gallery, this resulted in a series of successful exhibitions between the two English based Galleries. Exhibitions followed in Paris as Staakmann’s reputation grew, notably in the Goupils et Cie Gallery, again particularly noted for exhibiting Orientalist paintings.
Staakmann’s painting “Preparing for Battle” is a fine example of his technical mastery and skillful use of light. He paints in varying shades, with great attention to detail and meticulous work on the facial expressions of the principal characters, who are intently sharpening their swords. Other Arab warriors are waiting in turn to prepare their own swords.
This is a very large and important painting of a masculine subject by Staakmann. From the clever use of light from the cave, the glowing embers of the fire, the rich colour of the rug where they are sitting, to the group of Arab figures, one with his Arab horse waiting patiently, painted in a lighter subtle colour key, all these elements energise this painting by Staakmann to perfection.