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Pictor Ignotus [19th century]


[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

Pictor Ignotus (19th century)

Portrait of K. Marx

oil on canvas / 31 inches by 23 inches

Though Karl Marx [1818–1883], author of Das Kapital, was born in Germany and died at London and was buried at Highgate Cemetery there, the influence of his thinking has been worldwide and long-lasting. Marx’s philosophy was directed at the industrializing West but took root, ironically, in rural agricultural Russia, where it was distorted to become Soviet Communism. In our own era, when political labeling is hurled about so thoughtlessly, these two terms have become conflated. Considered apart from its political overtones, however, this handsome work is typical of portraiture at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Ironically, revolutionaries like Marx and Capitalists like, say, Andrew Carnegie were represented in much the same way — not that their “gospels” are interchangeable.

This is another work (without much provenance) which has come from the NINC Art Department study collection. It is on long-term loan to the Community Collection to give it greater exposure.

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