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    Pen & ink with wash

    31 x 46 cm



    Private collection, U.S.A.;

    Anonymous sale, Thomaston Place Auction Galleries, Boston, 29.08.2020, Lot 1211 (as Italian School 17-18th Century, Old Master En Grisaille Landscape Ink Drawing);

    Art Trade, London (as Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros) [until June, 2024]



    L'Allemagne Romantique 17809-1850 - Dessins des musées de Weimar (exhib. cat.), Paris (2019), p.107, pls.59-62




    We are grateful to Dr Christoph Orth for endorsing our recent reattribution of this work to Franz Kobell on the basis of digital images. This impressive drawing ranks among the most striking and sophisticated of Kobell’s neoclassical landscapes, with its high level of finish and colouring and dramatic atmosphere. It is an outstanding example of a depiction of the 'Sublime', from the period when artists across Northern Europe in particular were fascinated by the aesthetic concepts surrounding the ideal. The sheet is one of a series which Kobell produced shortly after his return from Italy, with three closely comparable examples of identical dimensions in the collection of the Klassik Stiftung, Weimar. (1)




     Franz Kobell was at first destined for a career as a merchant at his parents’ wishes, perhaps because his brother had already pursued art and they wished to have at least one son with a steady income. It was not long however before he too would go down that path, and he studied under his older brother Ferdinand and at the Mannheim Drawing Academy. Together, Ferdinand and Franz travelled around the Palatinate together on sketching trips, before Franz sent an ambitious request to the Elector asking for support for a trip to Rome, a request which was duly granted. Kobell spent five years in Rome his Roman sojourn, he became entranced by the idealised landscapes of Claude and Poussin, influences which would inform his art for his entire career.


    He was a prolific draughtsman, and tended to work in pen & ink with wash, producing hundreds if not thousands of small-scale sketches (the Städel Museum in Frankfurt alone has 605 works associated with him), often based on strict compositional principles: here a romantic waterfall, there a dramatic cliff-edge, all in a brisk and effortless medley of sharp lines that are immediately recognisable as his work to collectors. Goethe himself knew and liked Kobell’s work, writing ‘know . . . his drawings, which he executes in a style all of his own, with great speed and in extraordinary numbers. They show that he has understood and felt nature with a highly trained eye’.



    • NOTES

      (1) Exhibited in Paris at the Petit Palais' show, L'Allemagne Romantique 1780-1850 - Dessins des musées de Weimar, and described and illustrated by Hermann Mildenberger in the exhibition catalogue (Paris, 2019) on pp.114-120 (pl.59-63)

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