Albert Henrich, who was associated with the realist trends of the German Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), is an artist who is virtually unknown — almost as unknown as the person he portrays in this picture, the painter A.M. Tränkler. Although Henrich chiefly painted still lifes, he also produced portraits and landscapes, closely following the tradition of 17th-century Dutch painting.
The portrait of Alfons Maria Tränkler, of whom all that is known is his name and, as the title of the picture states, the fact that he was a painter, is executed with a highly sober, painstaking realism that lends it a certain harshness. Henrich’s psychological characterization of the sitter is reflected in the angular face — contracted in a stern gesture, with restrained expressiveness — jutting out from the gleaming starched collar of his shirt, and the right hand which holds a cigarette. Illuminated by a light source situated to Tränkler’s left, these sombre areas of flesh are painted with powerful chiaroscuro and stand out against the dark tones of the suit and the picture’s background.