The whereabouts of the work has been unknown since it last appeared at exhibition in Dallas in 1919 until it re-emerged last year in a Kansas City home where it is now known to have been for over 60 years.
Von Stuck’s 3ft 1in x 2ft 9½in (93 x 85cm) oil on panel, titled Lauschende Faune (Listening Fauns), was painted in c.1899.
Black and white existence
It was known only from black and white photographs reproduced in the Journal Die Kunst in 1904 and in 1909 in The International Studio – An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art as part of a lengthy article titled ‘The Collection of Hugo Reisinger: German and American Pictures’.
In 1909, when the artist was at the height of his career, the painting was also exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Remains of a label to the back of the painting from that exhibition identify it as being the property of Reisinger, a banker, businessman and prominent art collector who was a member of The Met’s board of directors and married to the daughter of St Louis, Missouri, brewery baron Adolphus Busch.
Research by the Art Loss Registry tracing the painting’s early years of ownership has revealed that Reisinger acquired Lauschende Faune in 1899 from the Galerie Heinemann, Von Stuck’s main representative.
Later that year it was exhibited at the Chicago Institute of Art and the Copley Society in Boston and its final recorded museum appearance was at the Dallas Art Association’s First Annual Exhibition: Contemporary International Art.
By this time the painting had changed hands, the owner in the catalogue being shown as Edward A Faust, a St Louis restauranteur who was connected to Busch by marriage.
In 1921, Lauschende Faune was found together with a large British equestrian work in the Kansas City home of the late Colonel and Mrs S D Slaughter.
Their grandsons, who jointly own the painting, have confirmed its existence in their grandparents’ home beginning in the 1960s.
The painting comes in the original gilt frame custom-made by Hans Irlbacher of Munich and will be offered in uncleaned condition at Soulis Auctions with an estimate of $75,000-125,000.