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  • Vilhelm Hammershøi (Kopenhagen 1864–1916) Den Hvide Dør (The White Door)
  •  
    Vilhelm Hammershøi (b. 1864–d. 1916), Den Hvide Dør (The White Door), 1888
    Oil on unlined canvas
    62 x 55 cm.
    Inscribed, dated and signed (on label on the reverse) ‘Interior fra Karl Madsen's Bolig Lyngby/malt i 1888/v. Hammershøi’
    Price on application
     

    The White Door is Vilhelm Hammershøi’s first known painting of an empty interior, a subject which would become a hallmark of his artistic oeuvre. In this early work, the artist has incorporated all the elements so representative of his unique style. A study for the present painting, also painted in 1888, is currently in the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.This version differs in several elements from the present picture, as it is slightly smaller and has been trimmed on the left and lower edges. Just these small adjustments create a radically different symmetrical balance and focus between these two paintings. The present work, considered to be the prime version of the composition, demonstrates a balance and harmony between the white door and black stove; while in the Statens Museum version the door is the focal point. Traces of pinholes (some of the pins even remain) are visible along all four edges of the prime version, and these pins were applied to enable the artist to create a grid for transfer in preparation of the second version. When the images are superimposed, the structure of the two works corresponds precisely (cf. fig. 2). A similar technique was used by Hammershøi in his portrait of Ida Ilsted from 1890, in which the photograph that served as the basis for the painting was squared for transfer (P. Vad, op. cit., 1988, p. 50, illustrated).

     

    The title, The White Door, was the artist’s choice. However, in the 1904 Bramsen sale, it was titled ;Stue med en gammal

    Billaewggerovn (Interior with an Old Jamb Stove);, the title by which both versions have since become known. It could be argued that the original title more accurately connotes the painting’s metaphysical qualities. 'The White Door' was executed during Hammershøi’s two-week stay at Karl Madsen’s home in Lyngby, north of Copenhagen in the autumn of 1888. Madsen, a celebrated Danish art critic and art historian, lived in a house built in 1791 known as Albertine Lyst. In a 1908 interview, Hammershøi recalled the present painting:

     

    ‘The first interior I painted, if my memory doesn’t fail me, was out at Karl Madsen’s place. I stayed with him in the autumn of ’88 in an old house called Albertine Lyst. In any case, it was the first picture of an empty room I painted. I have always thought there was such beauty about a room like that, even though there are no people in it, perhaps precisely because there are no people in it’ (P. Vad, op. cit., 1988, p. 62, 401).
     

    At the time, Madsen was at the beginning of a long and important career as an art critic which would lead to the directorship of the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen. Madsen was one of Hammershøi’s most ardent and astute supporters and his importance in the development and success of the artist’s career cannot be overestimated. Madsen considered Hammershøi to be the first neurasthenic painter in Denmark, therefore he applied a neuro-psychological approach to the analysis of his art. Neurasthenia was fashionable term invented by the American psychologist G. M. Beard, and taken up in Denmark by psychiatrist Knud Pontoppidan. It was defined as a kind of hypersensitivity of the nervous system brought on by modern life with its hectic lifestyle and perpetual state of social tension. ‘True neurasthenics’, Madsen wrote, ‘only tolerate colors in small doses’ (P. Vad, Hammershøi, 1988, p. 73). Hammershøi’s work, characterized by subdued coloring, nuanced tonal harmonies, geometric rigour of the planar composition, tranquility and almost clinical purity devoid of any disturbing elements, can be viewed as a reaction to the alarm of urban life, a kind of refuge from the world outside the windows.
     
    Théodore Duret, the famous art critic, most likely saw ‘The White Door’ during a visit with Karl Madsen to Hammershøi’s home. According to the artist’s mother, Duret ‘in very flattering terms pronounced his opinion on Vilhelm’s art’ (P. Vad, op. cit., 1988, p. 74). During his 1888 visit to Copenhagen, Duret also visited the collection of Alfred Bramsen, Hammershoi’s mentor, first biographer and ardent collector. By 1905, Bramsen owned as many as fifty seven works by the artist. Bramsen summed up Duret’s visit by stating, ‘he actually went away with the impression that we only had one painter [Hammershøi] who was capable of focusing the world’s attention on himself’ (P. Vad, op. cit., 1988, pp. 74-75).
     
    Sergei Diaghilev, most famous as impresario for the Ballets Russes in Paris, was an art critic before a change of career, and he published a journal, ‘The World of Art’. He also organized exhibitions in St. Petersburg of contemporary art and in the autumn of 1897 he held an exhibition of Scandinavian art. Diaghilev visited Denmark during the summer of 1897, with the express purpose of selecting works for the St. Petersburg exhibition. During this visit, he purchased one picture from Hammershoi and commissioned another, both of which are now lost. Ultimately, Hammershøi was represented in the St. Petersburg exhibition by ten pictures, five of which were lent by Bramsen, including the present painting. In conjunction with the exhibition, Diaghilev published an extensive article on Scandinavian art in the St. Petersburg journal ‘Severnyi vestnik’ (Northern Messenger), entitled ‘Sovremennaja skandinavskaya zhivopis (Modern Scandinavian Painting)’. This article contains a lengthy discussion of Hammershøi’s work.
     
    Hammershøi’s interiors of open doors devoid of figures also inspired writers and poets of the time. In the autumn of 1904, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke visited Copenhagen several times while working on a book on Hammershøi and in 1918, Sophus Michaëlis, who co-wrote with Alfred Bramsen the first catalogue raisonné on the artist, penned a poem entitled ‘Åbne Døre (Open Doors)’, which captures the essence of Hammershøi’s interiors.
     
    Art historians have focused on Hammershøi’s art from a poetic perspective highlighting the importance of his choice of subject matter and the perfect balance in his art, often comparing him to Johannes Vermeer. In his review in the English Daily Tribune of the Danish Exhibition at the Guildhall in London, Arthur Clutton-Brock wrote, ‘Sometimes he paints interiors with figures, and sometimes without. His interiors without figures do not seem to lack human interest; and where there are figures they are neither too much like still life nor do they overpower the interest of the accessories. In fact, perfect balance is the chief excellence of his art’ (P. Vad, op. cit., 1988, pp. 407-408).
     
    Despite the views of the critics and his admirers, Hammershøi himself considered the underlying structure of his paintings most important. In an interview in 1908, he stated, ‘What makes me choose a subject is as much the structure of the subject, what I would call the architectural complexity of the picture. And of course, the light. It is also of importance, but it is the structure I emphasize, colours are not that relevant. I work a lot on finding a harmonious balance, but it is foremost the structure I am focusing on’. It is this search for the inherent structure of composition which presents the viewer with an almost geometrical abstract that anticipates the work of Piet Mondrian. With the arrangement of lines and planes, along with subtle and nuanced colour harmonies, Hammershøi has discovered a model that we now call ‘modernist’. Mondrian, by edging and loading his rectangular compartments with a minimal palette and an art of ‘no objects’ and bathing all in a light as pure as paint can deliver, demonstrates his debt to the quiet genius of the Danish artist.
     
    The present picture is the only known work by Hammershøi that remains with its original varnish intact. This varnish is extremely thin, and has been applied with a sensitivity to the integrity of the structure of the surface of the paint. The attention Hammershøi paid to the creation of light on the surfaces of his canvases is balanced by the equally careful construction of the composition and the careful placement of every brushstroke. The refined modulation of light and form created by his use of colour and varied brushwork create both a visual and a psychological depth. In several areas, the artist has applied brushstrokes very loosely, in some instances in the same colours. When viewed from a distance, this distinctive technique created a sophisticated depth of tonality. The artist’s emphasis on the structural surface also reinforces the underlying structure of the subject. A thicker coat of varnish would greatly diminish these effects.
     
    Further Literature:
    F. Hammershøi, ‘Scrapbøger vedr. Vilh. Hammershøis værke’, unpublished (The Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen),
    vol. 1, 1885-1891 (1892), under 1888.
    K. Madsen, ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi's Kunst’, ‘Kunst’, vol. 1, no. 11 & 12, Copenhagen, 1899, p. 3 (illus. and titled ‘Den Hvide Dør Lyngby 1888’).
    ‘Raadhusudstillingen af Dansk Kunst til 1890’, exh. cat., The Townhall, Copenhagen, 1901, p. 35, no. 554
    (as ‘Interiør, (Den gamle bilæggerovn.) Lyngby 1888’).
    C. C. Clausen, ‘Naar udstillingen nærmer sig’, ‘Hver 8 Dag’, Copenhagen, 1907, pp. 437-438.
    Dr. W, ‘Hos Vilhelm Hammershøi, Stuernes Maler’, ‘Verden og Vi’, no. 19, Copenhagen, 9 May 1913, p. 4.
    S. Michaëlis and A. Bramsen, ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi. Kunst og hans værk’, Copenhagen, 1918, p. 86, no. 67
    (as ‘Den gamle Bilæggerovn, Lyngby 1888’).
    P. Vad, ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi and Danish Art at the Turn of the Century’, New Haven, 1992, p. 62, 401
    (erroneously illustrating the Statens Museum for Kunst painting).
    K. von Folsach and N. Lund, eds., ‘Dansk kunst i Davids Samling, Fra Philipsen til Saxbo’, Copenhagen, 1995, p. 100.
    S. Meyer-Abich, ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi’, ‘Das Malerische Werke’, PhD diss., Bochum, 1996, no. 63.
    K. Mønrad, ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi’, exh. cat., Gothenburg and Stockholm, p. 10 (as ‘Den gamla sättugnen’;
    erroneously identifying the Statens Museum for Kunst painting).
    ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi’, exh. cat., Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, 2003, no. 6 (illus., as ‘Die weiße Tür’).
    ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi: The Poetry of Silence’, exh. cat., Royal Academy, London, 2008, pp. 34, 144, no. 9 (illus.; p. 54, no. 11 in Tokyo catalogue).
    K. Mønrad et al., ‘Hammershøi & Europe’, exh. cat., Copenhagen and Munich, 2012, pp. 96, 143, note 105.
    ‘Hammershøi, Le maitre de la peinture Danoise’, exh. cat., Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, 2019, p. 154, 158, 171, no. 42 ((illus., as ‘La Porte Blanche (Intérieur avec un vieux poêle)’).

    Provenance:
    The artist.
    Alfred Bramsen (1851-1932), Copenhagen, acquired directly from the above, 1891.
    His sale; Winkel and Magnussen, Copenhagen, 1 Jan. 1904, lot 22 (as ‘Interiør. Den gamle Bilæggerovn, Lyngby 1898’).
    Hjalmar Hein (1871-1922), Copenhagen, acquired at the above sale.
    (Possibly) Christian Ludwig David (1878-1960), Copenhagen.
    (Possibly) His sale; Kunsthallen, Copenhagen, 5-6 March 1953, lot 133a (erroneously catalogued as ‘Michaëlis & Bramsen, no. 68’).
    Anon. sale; Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 9 Feb. 1954, lot 97, as’ Den gamle Bilæggerovn’ (erroneously catalogued as ‘Michaëlis & Bramsen, no. 68’).
    Private collection, Sweden, until 2019.

    Exhibitions:
    (Possibly) Copenhagen, ‘Den Frie Udstilling’, 1896, no. 36 (as ‘Interiør’).
    Stockholm, ‘Allmänna konst- och industriutställningen’, 1897, no. 1227 (as ‘Interiør med en hvit dörr’).
    St. Petersburg, ‘Exhibition of Scandinavian Art’, opened 23 Oct. 1897, one of nos. 223-32.
    Copenhagen, Kunstforeningen, ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi's Arbejder’, March 1900, no. 25 (as ‘Interieur. 'Den hvide Dør.' Lyngby 1888’).
    Berlin, ‘Große Berliner Kunstausstellung’, 5 May-16 Sept. 1900, no. 465 (as ‘Interieur. Die weisse Thür’).
    Copenhagen, The Townhall, ‘Raadhusudstillingen af Dansk Kunst til 1890’, May-July 1901, no. 554. Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi’, 22 March-29 June 2003, no. 6.
    London, Royal Academy of Arts, ‘Vilhelm Hammershøi: The Poetry of Silence’, 28 June–7 Sept. 2008, no. 9; this exhibition later travelled to Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 30 Sept.–7 Dec. 2008, no. 11.
    Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, ‘Hammershøi, Le maitre de la peinture Danoise’, 13 March-22 July 2019, no. 42.
     
  • Lotte Laserstein, Self-portrait en face
  •  
    Lotte Laserstein (b. 1898– d. 1993), Self-portrait en face
    Oil on unlined canvas
    33 x 31 cm.
    Signed upper right ‘Lotte Laserstein’

    Price: £220,000 (plus any applicable taxes)
     
    ‘She can paint. She has a pronounced sense of the earnestness of beauty. One feels it down to one’s fingertips’ (Anonymous, 1930, quoted in ‘Lotte Laserstein’: Face to Face’, exh. cat., Stadel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 2018)
     
    The German-Swedish painter Lotte Laserstein (1898–1993) can rightly be considered one of the great women artists of the 20th Century, whose skill and reputation have unjustly been forgotten.
     
    In the Weimar Republic she was celebrated as a shining talent, and art critics at the time predicted a brilliant ascent capped by her winning the Academy’s gold medal in 1925. However, the promising career came to an abrupt end when the Nazis ceased power and declared Lotte a “three-quarter Jew”. In 1937 she emigrated to Sweden, where she stayed for the rest of her life, and with her forced displacement Laserstein also vanished from the art historical map and the collective consciousness. Those works in public collections which might have recalled her existence and her creativity fell prey to the Nazi iconoclasm; and art historians anxious to rehabilitate disgraced artists in post-war decades were too preoccupied by the Abstract to take note of a Realist’s impressive oeuvre. In the war years and later she managed to scrape a living by painting portraits. Like many other exiled artists of her generation, she never succeeded in regaining the international recognition she had once had, until a pioneering exhibition at Agnew’s in London in 1987 led to a rediscovery of her oeuvre. Numerous exhibitions at museums and galleries followed, and German museums now hold important examples of her work: in 2010 the Nationalgalerie in Berlin acquired what she considered her opus magnum, Evening over Potsdam and more recently the Städel in Frankfurt purchased Russian Girl with Compact. Four of her paintings were included in the recent exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Splendor and Misery in the Weimar Republic; and a major retrospective her work was hosted by the Städel, Frankfurt in 2018/19. Today Laserstein is quite rightly regarded as one of the most important figurative painters of the first half of the 20th century.
     
    Ostracized: living and working under the Nazis:
    The Nazi racial laws “made a Jew” of Lotte Laserstein. Until that moment she had attached no particular importance to Jewish religion or culture and for generations the Lasersteins had lived assimilated lives in Germany. They were not only non-practicing, but no longer thought of themselves as Jewish. However, the label not only destroyed her professionally, it ultimately threatened to destroy her life, and soon after the Nazis seized power in 1933, Lotte and her sister Käte began to experience the discrimination and defamation of government incited anti-Semitism.
     
    In April 1933 the Nazi government organized a one-day boycott of all Jewish-owned businesses in Germany and days later, laws were proclaimed to remove German Jews from various occupations. By September that year a letter from the National Socialist League of German Students requested that ‘schools of drawing run by Jewish entrepreneurs [advertised] on the porch notice board be removed… The following are to be regarded as Jewish firms: Müller-Mela School of Painting, Hans Licht School of Art, Lotte Laserstein School of Art , Eugen Herrsch Shool of Art, Marga Stein School of Dressmaking’. It was not long before Laserstein was barred from exhibiting in public, the last time seeming to be in the spring of 1934 at Galerie Nierendorf, where she participated in a group show entitled ‘A Cross Section of 20th -Century Women’s Art’. Her only refuge for artistic activity was the Jewish Cultural Association, through which she took part in an exhibition of German Jewish artists at Parson’s Galleries in London in 1934 and a private show in Berlin at the home of Gertrude Weil, wife of composer Hermann Weil, in 1935.
     
    The same year, in 1935, Lotte Laserstein was obliged to relinquish her studio in Nachodstrasse and she moved to a small flat which provided no room for an atelier at 3 Jenaer Strasse, also in the Wilmersdorf district, where she lived until she fled Germany. In a sworn affidavit about her professional status during the Nazi years, Lotte Laserstein stated that ‘From 1933 onwards I was banned from exhibiting. My membership of art associations was terminated and only Jews studying art were permitted to attend my classes….I was not allowed to sell my works’. Laserstein’s membership of the ‘Verein der Berliner Künstlerinnen’ ended in 1935, the year when she was also banned from exercising her profession. From 1935 onwards it was compulsory to demonstrate membership of the ‘Reichskulturkammer’ (Reich Chamber of Culture) in order to engage in professional activity, and this she could not do. Like others, she would have received a rejection to her application which would have ended with the customary wording: ‘In accordance….with the First Ordinance Implementing the Reichskulturkammer Act of 1 November 1933…..I refuse you admission to the Reich Chamber of Fine Arts and order you to desist from using the professional title….and continuing to exercise this profession.’ Laserstein would subsequently have had trouble procuring materials since paint and art equipment could only be purchased by showing a membership card. As such, Laserstein was rarely painting on canvas by the mid-thirties, instead perfecting the oil on paper technique taught to her by Erich Wolfsfeld. The thin build-up and monochromatic range of her works from this period are likely at least in part to be a response to her difficulty in acquiring the necessary painting materials.
     
    Laserstein was obliged to close her private school in 1935 as a result on even tougher sanctions against Jews. She continued tutoring pupils in private, but it would have place severe financial constraints on her. She was not permitted to either sell her art or accept commissions, and so she took a job as an art teacher in a Jewish private school run by Helene Zickel where her sister was already teaching. During this period Laserstein tried to place work in exhibitions abroad, for example, in 1937 at the Salon d’automne in Paris. At this exhibition she showed works painted at an earlier date such as ‘In my Studio’ (1928) and ‘I and my Model’ (1929/30).
     
    One work which we do know that Laserstein painted after 1933 is the present remarkable self-portrait, as described by Dr. Anna Anna-Carola Krausse in the first comprehensive retrospective of Laserstein’s work at the Museum Ephraim-Palais, Berlin in 2003/4: ‘Economic in its use of colour and virtuoso in its execution it focuses less on the professional painter than on Lotte Laserstein as a private individual. There are stronger signs here than in other self-portraits that she is exploring her face to mirror her soul. The head has been placed with strict symmetry, emphasized by a light which emanates from the darkness without betraying its source, and viewed from a slightly upward perspective, [a] compositional ruse which elevates the self-portrait from the viewer’s standpoint and makes it look as though the artist is looking down on herself. Humiliation and pride go hand in hand. The dark monochromatic hues lend this small format a material intensity and an inner force which appears to radiate from the frame-filling subject. Nevertheless, the facial expression is ambivalent and ultimately hard to define. It is this state that defies precise description which suggests the conflict Laserstein must have experienced in her new enforced Jewish identity’ (A.-C. Krausse, ‘Lotte Laserstein: Leben und Werk’ (catalogue raisonné), Berlin, 2006, p. 207).
     
    Laserstein’s life in Germany was becoming untenable. In 1937 the Nazis proclaimed their “ethnic” art policy and launched a propagandistic satellite road show on “degenerate art” In December of that year, Laserstein was extended an invitation to exhibit at the Galerie Moderne in Stockholm, Sweden, and she used this as an excuse to flee Germany with some of her most important works, as a result of which a sizeable portion of her Berlin oeuvre was saved. Tragically, it proved far harder, and ultimately impossible, to bring her mother and her sister to Sweden. Her sister Käte went underground in 1942 surviving the war in hiding in Belin, but their mother Meta was arrested and died at Ravensbruck concentration camp in January 1943. After these devastating events an ‘aversion’ prevented Laserstein from returning to Germany after the war and she was never to return describing her life as having been torn in two. Much later in the 1980s she wrote a short passage describing this huge rift in her life and the part that her art played in it ‘Reality? To me, that has always been my work, ever since I was a child. My life was carved into two chunks of almost equal size: childhood, youth, training, my first independent work and leaving Germany. Then a new laborious start in Sweden. If I had not had my own reality in my paint box, that little case that led me from Skane via Stockholm to Jamtland, I could not have borne those years when everything was taken from me: family, friends and home. I retrieved some of it thanks to ‘my only reality.” Today, her Berlin period is seen as the peak of almost eighty creative years.
     
    Further literature:
    ‘Lotte Laserstein, Paintings and Drawings from Germany and Sweden, 1920- 1970’, exh. cat., Thos. Agnew & Sons & The Belgrave Gallery, 1987, p. 29, no. 29 (illus. p. 18).
    ‘Lotte Laserstein: meine einzige Wirklichkeit’, exh. cat., Das Verborgene Museum in collaboration with Stiftung Stadtmuseum, Museum Ephraim-Palais, 2003, pp. 202-07 (illus. plate 150 & p. 360, no. 150 and listed as painted circa 1933).
    Anna-Carola Krause, ‘Lotte Laserstein: Leben und Werk’ (catalogue raisonné), Berlin, 2006, p. 207, fig. 150 (illus.)
    ‘Lotte Laserstein: Face to Face’, exh. cat., Stadel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 2018, pp. 114-5, no. 26 (full page colour illus., p. 115 and listed as painted circa 1933).

    Provenance:
    The artist; until sold in 1987 (see under Exhibitions below) to
    Suzanne Eva,
    Agnews, London, acquired from the above in Oct. 2020.

    Exhibitions:
    London, Thos. Agnew & Sons & The Belgrave Gallery, ‘Lotte Laserstein, Paintings and Drawings from Germany and Sweden, 1920- 1970’, 1987, no.29.
    Berlin, Das Verborgene Museum in collaboration with Stiftung Stadtmuseum, Museum Ephraim-Palais, ‘Lotte Laserstein: meine einzige Wirklichkeit’, 7 Nov. 2003-1 Feb. 2004, no.150,
    Frankfurt am Main, Stadel Museum & Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, ‘Lotte Laserstein: Face to Face’, 19 Sept. 2018 – 12 Aug. 2019, no. 26
  • Alexander Calder, Plumbings II, 1973. Alon Zakaim Fine Art
     
    Giovanni Battista Salvi, il Sassoferrato (b. Sassoferrato 1609–d. 1685 Rome), The Virgin in Prayer, n.d.
    Oil on copper
    22 x 17.5 cm.

    Price: £270,000 (plus any applicable taxes)
     
    The present painting is a version of a popular design known in at least two other paintings by Sassoferrato. This particular design showing the Virgin at prayer is one of at least four evolved by the artist.
     
    This small work on copper represents one of the most celebrated subjects from Sassoferrato’s oeuvre. The Virgin is shown in prayer, with her hands together and her gaze downturned, her head slightly inclined; emphasising her ivory skin tone, she wears the typical blue mantle with a white veil over her head and shoulders.
     
    The compositional elegance, the enamel-like application of paint and the purity of the representation attest to the great pictorial quality of this work. Moreover, its small dimensions and its particular copper support make this painting a statement of precious refinement. It is therefore likely that this work once belonged in the private oratory of a high-ranking prelate.
     
    Over the course of his career Sassoferrato repeatedly painted the Madonna in Prayer, and various versions of the subject exist, such as one on canvas, of larger dimensions than the present work, which is conserved in the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo (inv. no. 81LC00215), as well as the one at the National Gallery, London.
     
    The simplicity and sobriety of the composition made this one of the most effective and iconic images of the seventeenth century, a time when the Marian cult, thanks to the directives of the Counter Reformation, gained new traction. In this context Sassoferrato’s intense yet tender production of religious subjects, largely conceived for private use, attained great success. The artist’s aspiration to restore a timeless ideal of beauty looked back to the high Renaissance, and especially to Raphael, and it precociously promoted the recovery of a devotional register.
     
    Giovanni Battista Salvi called il Sassoferrato after his native city in the Marches was principally active in central Italy. After initial training with his father, he made a crucial formative journey to Rome where he entered the studio of Domenichino. This experience brought him into direct contact with the classical painters, the Carracci and Guido Reni, as well as fostering his admiration for Renaissance art which he wished to emulate. Indeed, Sassoferrato’s painting style is characterised by a refined archaism which refers back to the great masters of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Sassoferrato was greatly appreciated as a portraitist but above all he became celebrated for his highly refined religious cabinet paintings were characterised by a quiet, private, intimacy, which is apparent in the present work.
     
    Sassoferrato places emphasis on the softly modelled draperies, the white veil and brilliant blue cloak, painted in ultramarine. The face remains largely in shadow, the eyes downcast, and this has the effect of highlighting the hands joined in prayer. The gold of her halo is in gold and in relief, further emphasising the three dimensional quality of the work, as does the use of the support, copper, which is unusual for the artist.
     
    The painting recalls works by such artists as Raphael, and anticipates certain Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the 19th century.
     
    François Macé de Lépinay has confirmed the attribution of the present painting on the basis of a high-resolution digital photograph.
     
    Provenance:
    Private Collection, Europe, until 2019.
  •  Thomas Baumgartner (München 1892 - 1962 Kreuth) Portrait of two Krumen soldiersm Fine Art
  •  
    Thomas Baumgartner (b. 1892–d. 1962), Portrait of two Krumen soldiers, 1916
    Oil on unlined canvas
    101 x 82 cm.
    Signed and dated upper left ‘Th. Baumgartner 1916’
    Price: £90,000 (plus any applicable taxes)

    The present work shows two African soldiers from the so-called Krumen people, an ethnic group living mostly along the coast of Liberia and Ivory Coast. The picture belongs to a series of around twenty-seven portraits of prisoners-of-war which the German artist Thomas Baumgartner painted between 1916 – 1917 in the Halbmondlager (known in English as the ‘Half Moon Camp’), a prisoner-of-war camp in Wünsdorf near Berlin, Germany, during the First World War. The camp housed mainly Muslim Arab, Indian and African soldiers from the British and French colonies who had fought against Germany for the allied side. The intended purpose of the camp was to convince detainees to switch allegiance from Britain and France. To that end, detainees lived in relative comfort and were given everything they needed to practice their faith. The German explorer in Africa, Adolf Friedrich, Duke of Mecklenburg (1873–1969) commissioned the series of portraits from Baumgartner, who was spared from being sent to the frontline as a result of this extensive commission.
     
    The soldier in the foreground confronts the viewer with a confident frontal stance and steady, direct gaze, which lends the picture a striking immediacy as well as revealing the personalities of the sitters. The strong, composed stillness of the soldiers' poses is juxtaposed beautifully with the loose and energetic handling of the brushwork, which is painted with thick impasto in an impressionistic manner.
     
    Provenance:
    Commissioned from the artist by Adolf Friedrich, Duke of Mecklenburg (1873 – 1969).
    (Possibly) in the artist’s possession.
    Private Collection, Germany.

     Thomas Baumgartner (München 1892 - 1962 Kreuth) Portrait of two Krumen soldiersm Fine Art

     
    Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (b.1793- d.1865), View of Lake Altaussee and the Dachstein
    Oil on panel
    31 x 26.5 cm.
    Signed and dated (centre right) ‘Waldmüller 1834’

    Price: £350,000 (plus any applicable taxes)
     
    The present work, painted in 1834, is a tour de force by Austria’s leading painter of the Biedermeier. Primarily known for his genre paintings, Waldmüller himself considered his artist’s calling to be the representation of nature. As he wrote in 1846: ‘recognition that nature must be the only source and sum total of our study; there alone can be found the eternal truth and beauty, the expression of which must be the artist’s highest aim in every branch of the plastic arts.’ (quoted in A. Roessler, G. Pisko, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmuller: Sein Leben, sein Werk und seine Schriften', Vienna, 1907, vol II, p. 9).
     
    'View of lake Altaussee and the Dachstein' belongs to a sequence of landscapes painted in the Salzkammergut (in the Central Bavarian dialect called: Soizkaumaguad), an area of lakes closely related to the early history of Bavaria stretching from the city of Salzburg eastwards along the Alpine Foreland to the peaks of the Dachstein Mountains in which Waldmüller spent his summers from 1829 until 1843. This period is regarded as the climax of his development as a landscape painter and by 1834 the majority of his artistic output consisted almost entirely of landscapes painted in the Salzkammergut. These sojourns in the mountains seem to have giving him the opportunity to liberate himself from formal portraiture which had dominated his career so far. He quickly became fascinated by the untouched and pristine nature of the surrounding landscape ‘Waldmüller was captivated by the pristine green wilderness in its summery growth, the narrowly limited segment of nature with its cool shadows and the grasses and stones, branches and leaves, glowing in warm, sunlit colours..The lack of aerial perspective in the high mountains favoured Waldmüller’s artistic intentions, making the faraway mountain chains and forest slopes appear as clear and as tangible as the foreground motifs, with no loss of definition in the distance, which for Waldmüller was an essential requirement.’ (B. Grimschitz, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller', Salzburg, 1957, p. 47)
     
    Based on his own observation from a real vantage point, 'View of lake Altaussee' and the Dachstein reveals Waldmüller’s ability to create a remarkable sense of recession and depth using an extremely precise technique reproducing both the smallest background details and the principle foreground elements without losing definition. The landscape betrays the idiosyncrasy of a Biedermeier landscape with its luminosity, contrast of light and shadow, symphony of colour, the sunlit mountain peaks reflecting in the shimmering blue of the lake, and just a small cluster of houses to remind us of human existence. Dating from 1834, Waldmüller’s plein-air landscapes from this period can be regarded as a milestone on the way to modernism.
     
    Further literature:
    A. Roessler & G. Pisko, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. Sein Leben, sein Werk und seine Schriften (mit Werkverzeichnis)', Vienna 1907, no. 91.
    A. Roessler, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller', Vienna, 1908, no. 57.
    Federal Republic of Germany, Federal Art Administration, Property Card of the CCP Munich, Mü-Nr. 11228.
    B. Grimschitz, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (mit Werkverzeichnis von Bruno Grimschitz und Emil Richter)', Salzburg, 1957, p. 311, no. 385 (as 'Der Altausseer See gegen den Dachstein' & illus.)
    'Jahrbuch der Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen in Baden-Württemberg, IV', Berlin, 1967, p. 128.
    H. Schwarz, 'Salzburg und das Salzkammergut: Eine künstlerische Entdeckung d. Stadt u. d. Landschaft in Bildern des 19. Jahrhunderts', Salzburg, 1977, no. 210.
    R. Feuchtmüller, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller - Leben, Schriften, Werke', Vienna, 1996, p. 460, no. 429, as: 'Der Altausseer See gegen den Dachstein' (illus.)
    S. Lillie, 'Was einmal war: Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens', Vienna, 2003, p. 111.
     
    Exhibitions:
    Vienna, Künstlerhaus, 1890, no. 186.
    Vienna, Hagenbund, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. Ausstellung des Hagenbundes und der Neuen Galerie in den Räumen des Hagenbundes, 1930', no. 28 (31).
    Salzburg, Galerie Welz, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller', Summer 1937, no. 9.
    Salzburg, 'Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. Gedächtnisausstellung. Residenz', 1953, no. 57.
    Karlsruhe, Staatlichen Kunsthalle, 'Kat. Neuere Meister,' 1971/72, no. 504.
     
    Provenance:
    Anonymous sale; Löscher, Vienna, 11-13 May 1863, lot 77.
    Johann II. Fürst Liechtenstein, by 1907.
    Dr. Hermann Eissler (1860-1953), Vienna, by 1930.
    Banned from export under the Nazi regime and held in the apartment of the above, 29 October 1938.
    Berta Morelli (1893 – 1975), Vienna, by December 1938, acquired as a gift from her father, Dr Hermann Eissler.
    Purchased by Maria Almas Dietrich, Munich, together with two other paintings by Waldmüller from the above and Hortense Eissler for Reich Chancellery in May 1939.
    Reich Chancellery, by whom acquired from the above as part of the collection for the planned Linz Museum (Linz no. 734).
    Recovered by the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section for the Salt Mines, Alt Aussee (no. 6442), and transferred to the Central Collecting Point, Munich, 22 October 1945 (MCCP no. 11228).
    With Galerie Nathan, Zurich.
    Transferred into the custody of the Bavarian Ministerpräsident, December 1948, thereafter into the custody of the German federal government, June 1949.
    On loan from the above to the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, 1966 (inv. no. Lg 755).
    Restituted to the heirs of Dr Herman Eissler in 2020.
     
    A note on the Provenance
    In the early 20th century, the present picture is recorded in the possession of Johann II. Fürst Liechtenstein, who was the Prince of Liechtenstein between 1858 and 1929. His reign of 70 years and 91 days is the second-longest of any monarch in European history, after that of Louis XIV of France. Johann II was an art connoisseur and added much to the Liechtenstein Princely Collections and is considered a prominent patron of the arts and sciences during his long reign. Johann II ordered extensive renovations at Vaduz Castle, the home of the princely family, despite the fact that he never lived in the castle or even in Liechtenstein. He also was generous in his support of science, culture, and charities for the needy, and for this support, he was given the nickname Johann the Good. By 1930, View of lake Altaussee and the Dachstein was owned by the Jewish business man and distinguished art collector Dr Hermann Eissler (1860-1953), whose collection was renowned for its exceptional number of works by Austrian and German 19th century artists such as Rudolf von Alt, August von Pettenkofen., Arnold Böcklin, Franz von Lenbach, Adolph von Menzel and Ludwig Richter. Eissler was one of the first collectors of French Impressionism in Austria owning an oil sketch of Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, Paul Cézanne’s landscape Village derrière des arbres, Ile de France and Vincent van Gogh’s Self-portrait from 1887 (now in the Emil Bührle Collection)