Adolf Hitler ‘s career as an artist is one of the more forgotten aspects of his life, but long before he became one of history’s best-known villains, he was an aspiring painter. His attempts to establish himself as an artist were marked by failure. As the Telegraph notes, he tried and failed to gain entry to the prestigious Vienna Academy Of Art. Some think that this rejection may have been the catalyst that shaped the political views he expressed later in life as he thought that a Jewish professor was the person who rejected his portfolio.
Now, three of his watercolor paintings, all created during the early 20th century, are up for auction in Germany even though they’re of “no artistic value,” according to the auctioneer.
“If you walk down the Seine and see 100 artists, 80 will be better than this,” said Heinz-Joachim Maeder, a spokesperson for the Kloss auction house in Berlin, in an interview with Reuters, as reported by the BBC. “The value of these objects and the media interest is because of the name at the bottom.”
According to the BBC, Hitler’s paintings have sold for hefty sums in the past. One of his watercolors sold for €130,000 ($148,000) at an auction in Nuremberg in 2014. The painting was of a registry office in Munich and was sold alongside an authentic letter by Nazi military commander Albert Bormann. In 2009, a collection of 13 pieces were sold for the same amount.
The watercolor paintings currently up for auction are of a mountain scene, a distant figure sat beneath a tree, and a river. The auction house reportedly expects a lot of interest in the artwork to come from Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Although, he reportedly wanted all his artwork destroyed, several of Hitler’s paintings are in the U.S. after they were confiscated by American troops after the fall of the Third Reich. The army’s collection of Hitler’s artwork has never been put up for public display.
Sketches from his rejected art portfolio are of nudes, still-lifes, and landscapes, the Telegraph reports. A British art history professor described them as being the typical art of a high school student with “moderate” skill.
“They look quite typical of an aspiring student hoping to get into art school – tentative and not very certain about his perspective,” said Michael Liversidge, Emeritus Dean of Arts at Bristol University. “And he doesn’t yet have much in the way of technical skill, but it’s not so bad that one can’t imagine him learning – especially when he’s bolder with the charcoal or black chalk.”
But, a young Adolf Hitler chose a different path, and the rest, as they say, is history.