DescriptionCARL SPITZWEG (German, 1808-1885)
Study of a Woodland Landscape
Oil on artists' board
12-1/2 x 10 inches (31.8 x 25.4 cm)
Estate-stamped signature with monogram of S in a lozenge lower right: Spitzweg
Max Hohne, Holbeinstrasse 15, Berlin, Germany, circa March 1946;
Captain William Donald Carlson (1914-1988), Sandstone, Minnesota and Las Vegas, Nevada, gift from the above on March 8, 1946;
By descent to Marian Carlson, wife of the above, 1988-2012;
Thence by descent through the family.
This lot is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Adolf Alt, the Spitzweg authority who with Munich dealer Hugo Helbing handled a great deal of work from the Spitzweg estate. The certificate issued by Alt in Munich and dated December 11, 1933 is preserved on the reverse of this painting. Also accompanying the lot is a photocopy of a letter of bequest from Max Hohne to Captain William Donald Carlson dated March 8, 1946.
This beautiful oil study from nature by the celebrated 19th-century German painter Carl Spitzweg was a gift from a grateful Berlin homeowner to the present owner's father at the end of World War II. While stationed in Berlin with the military police, the current owner's father, American Captain William Donald Carlson, and his company were billeted in the sizable home of Max Hohne, a builder (baumeister), at Holbeinstrasse 15, in southwestern Berlin. Carlson strictly forbade his men to steal, damage or misuse in any way Hohne's home and furnishings, and upon their departure the homeowner gave this painting and a crystal and silver chased cigarette box to Carlson with heartfelt thanks together with a letter of bequest, both in German and in English, which reads: "Dear Mister Captain Carlson! In occasion of your stay in my house in the Holbeinstreet 15 I am very glad to can give you many thanks that you have protected and taken care of my house. I pray you to take this little picture as remembrance of my [me] and my family. It is a true Spitzweg one of the desired and in all world best known German painter's. In friendly respect your Max Hohne."
This poetic painting of a carefully-observed clump of trees under a blue-gray sky--by one of Germany's most beloved painters of romantic townscapes and genre scenes--is a moving expression of the mutual respect and friendship that grew up between Hohne and Carlson under difficult post-war circumstances. Carlson's insistence upon peaceful respect while residing in Hohne's home finds a moving analogy in Spitzweg's tranquil woodland view, which dates to circa 1833-34, when the artist produced numerous plein-air oil studies of trees, rocks, hillsides and plants in this highly delicate, detailed manner--motifs which figured in the landscapes of his popular rural genre scenes. Throughout his career, Carl Spitzweg would take long sketching trips in nature, both in his native Germany and abroad, as a way of compiling firsthand a repertoire of fresh nature motifs for his finished compositions. In this early-career oil study, Spitzweg painted in a very precise manner which Spitzweg scholar Siegfried Wichmann notes is a reflection of the artist's keen admiration for Durer (Spitzweg owned color prints of Durer's nature studies.) A closely-related study of trees by Spitzweg that is nearly the same size as the present work (private collection, formerly National Gallery, Prague, inv. no. 06647) is illustrated in Siegfried Wichmann, Carl Spitzweg. Verzeichnis der Werke - Gemaelde und Aquarelle, Stuttgart, 2002,cat. no. 75, p. 134.
According to Carlson's daughter: "My father was the company commander of the anti-tank squad of the 310th Infantry Regiment, part of the famed 78th Infantry Division, which fought at the Battle of the Bulge, Remagen Bridge and the Ruhr Pocket, to name a few of the notable battles. In November, 1945, the 78th Regiment relieved the 82nd Airborne Div. , taking up duties providing guard and security at the juncture in Berlin where the US, British and Russian sectors met. This encompassed the districts of Schoneberg, Tempelhof, Kreuzber and Neukolln. As a result, my father headed a military police unit. Holbeinstrasse 15, where he was billeted, was in the adjacent Lichterfelde district."
"I rather think of the character played by Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan" when I think of my father," Carlson's daughter has shared. "He was born in the small town of Sandstone, MN, January 15, 1914 and was living in Las Vegas, NV at the time of his death, where he had been instrumental in the early development of UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas); he retired as Professor Emeritus and the Education Building is named in his honor."
Light surface grime/discoloration; uneven varnish layer visible under raking light; minor surface abrasions near left, bottom and lower right edges; does not appear to have any evidence of in-painting or restoration under UV exam. Framed Dimensions 14.75 X 12.25 Inches
*Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.
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