Over Julia’s Dead Body: Gabriel von Max’s Mystics and Martyrs

May 2 – September 13, 2009

One of the artists collected in depth by Charles and Emma Frye is Gabriel von Max, a Munich Secessionist best known for his paintings of beautiful, dead women. Max trained for several years in Prague before completing his artistic studies in Munich in 1867. He established his own atelier there and later taught history painting at the Munich Academy. Max’s dark palette and interests in spirituality, hypnotism, somnambulism, and parapsychological phenomena influenced many late-nineteenth-century German artists.

Showcasing the Max paintings in the Frye Collections, Over Julia’s Dead Body includes The Christian Martyr (1867), a favorite painting of Frye visitors. The exhibition features a contemporary response to this historical painting: an original short story by Seattle writer Lesley Hazleton.

Hazleton’s psychologically-charged story was commissioned by the Frye for Looking Together: Writers on Art, a book published by the Frye and University of Washington Press, in which writers have created works of fiction or poems based on works of art from the Frye Collections or from temporary exhibitions hosted at the Museum.

Hazleton lived in Jerusalem for thirteen years and has written on Middle East politics for the New York Times, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Nation, and many other publications. Her award-winning books include Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother (Bloomsbury, 2004) and Jezebel: The Untold Story of the Bible’s Harlot Queen (Doubleday, 2007). Hazleton’s After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam (working title) is due out from Doubleday in fall 2009. British-born, Hazleton lives and writes on a houseboat in Seattle, her home since 1992.

Over Julia’s Dead Body is curated by Robin Held, chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections.

Looking Together: Writers on Art, featuring Hazleton's short story, is available for purchase in the Museum Store. Mail orders are available by contacting store@fryemuseum.org or 206 432 8201.

Read an excerpt from Hazleton's short story on the Excerpts from Looking Together: Writers on Art page.

Image Credits:
Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max. The Christian Martyr, 1867. 48 x 36 3/4 in. Charles and Emma Frye Collection, 1952.116.
Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max. Soap Bubbles, circa 1880. Oil on canvas. 42 1/2 x 31 3/4 in. Charles and Emma Frye Collection, 1952.111.
Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max. Nightingales, c. late 1890s – 1900. Oil on canvas. 19 3/8 x 23 7/8 in. Charles and Emma Frye Collection, 1952.114.
Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max. At Rest, circa late 1890s - 1905. Oil on canvas. 24 ¼ x 18 ¾ in. Charles and Emma Frye Collection, 1952.115.

"In front of the painting, as Hazleton's voice speaks directly into your ear as if she's right behind you, so close you could easily touch, her story is a killer."

Jen Graves The Stranger