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Caspar David Friedrich

* 1774 – † 1840

Blick aus der Nähe des Linckeʼschen Bades über die Prießnitz elbaufwärts, (View over the River Priessnitz and up the Elbe from the Linckesches Bad) ca. 1799/1800

Pen in grey and brown ink over pencil, scoring, traces of brushwork and India ink on laid paper with stylus marks for transfer, watermark: J. Honig & Zoonen

Labelled at top left in pencil: p 2 at bottom left in pencil: Com (?) white with blue (…) o yellow x light green (…) inside the drawing (on the gable of a house on the left) in pencil: x Inside the drawing (on the gable of a house in the middle): o

Caspar David Friedrich received his first lessons as an artist from Johann Gottfried Quistorp, a drawing teacher at the university in his home town of Greifswald.1 It was on Quistorp’s recommendation, moreover, that in 1794 he began his four-year course of study at the prestigious Copenhagen Academy. Although the curriculum was dominated by drawing and did not cover landscapes of any kind, Friedrich seized the opportunity presented by the private lessons given by his professors to devote himself to this genre. The influence of professors Jens Juel, Nicolai Abildgaard and Christian August Lorentzen on the young artist was especially important during this early period.2 On completing his training in Denmark in 1798, Friedrich moved to Dresden, where he would remain for the rest of his life. The figures who had a formative impact on him here in his new home were Jakob Crescenz Seydelmann3 and above all Adrian Zingg,4 who in 1766 was appointed professor of engraving at the Dresden Academy. Zingg’s meticulously detailed landscape drawings, prints and hand-coloured etchings after landscape paintings had previously earned him great acclaim among his contemporaries.5

Around the turn of the century, Friedrich selected a double page of his sketch book on which to capture the mouth of the River Priessnitz as seen from the banks of the Elbe in Dresden-Neustadt, looking eastward.6 On the left is the lower Priessnitz Bridge leading to the Linckesches Bad, a lido named after Christian Lincke. He acquired the land with the lido, which as one of the first of its kind was installed at the urging of the physician Peter Ambrosius Lehmann, in 1775 and turned it into a popular spot for day-trippers. The theatre added in 1776 is included in Friedrich’s work as the large house with half-hip roof surrounded by trees on the left.7

Gathered at the confluence of the Priessnitz and Elbe are several groups of staffage figures, presumably Dresdeners enjoying a day out. Standing in the foreground are a courting couple: the woman with parasol drawn in pencil only, the gentleman accompanying her with his arm around her already overdrawn in ink. Next to them is a man climbing up the river bank, for which the two small half-figures at top right were presumably preparatory sketches. Another couple is standing on the headland on the opposite bank and two, finely pencilled-in seated figures can just about be made out next to the moored boats, as can the angler positioned even further upstream. In his expert appraisal of this drawing, Helmut Börsch-Supan notes the similarity between the rather clumsily drawn movements of the staffage figures and the drawings in the two sketch books8 in Berlin’s Kupferstichkabinett of 1799 and 1800.9 Also apparent is one of the constants of Friedrich’s drawn oeuvre: the fact that he struggled with his depictions of human figures.10 The fact that on arriving in Dresden in 1798 he enrolled in the life drawing class at the Dresden Academy, despite having already completed his formal training in Copenhagen, indicates that he himself was well aware of this weakness.11

Visible in the background of our veduta are a few sailing boats on the Elbe, beyond which our gaze falls on the hills above the bend in the river, some vineyards here and there and the village of Loschwitz on the right. The large cloud formations that Friedrich captures in the upper half of the drawing extend as far as the upper edge, where in places they are overdrawn with sketches.

Another identifiable building is the Villa Anton on the opposite bank of the Elbe at right. It was Christian Gottlob Anton, chief inspector of the rafting operations of the Elster und Erzgebirgische Flösserei and tax councillor to the Elector of Saxony, who had this villa built on the site of an old lime kiln in 1754, and who would later endow it with a garden in the English style. Adjoining the property was a tavern that was popular with Dresdeners12 and whose guests included the writer E.T.A. Hoffmann. His 1814 novella The Golden Pot has the protagonist stop first at the Linckesches Bad and then cross the Elbe to see the fireworks being set off in the Anton Gardens on the opposite bank.13

The outlines of the villa show that when Friedrich went over his original pencil drawing in ink, he had to correct the proportions to make them accord with the view from his chosen vantage point. Around a quarter of a century after our drawing, Traugott Faber14, inspired by Friedrich’s painting Frau am Fenster15 (Woman at a Window) that he had seen exhibited at the Dresden Academy, produced a painting of the view in the opposite direction, as seen from a dormer window of the Villa Anton.16

As Börsch-Supan explains, our drawing, which in places is worked through and blackened on verso, seems to have served as the model for an as yet unidentified veduta. The artist’s barely decipherable notes on colours, which are scribbled along the left lower edge and seem to relate to the buildings labelled x and o at the Linckesches Bad, might indicate a planned painting to be done in watercolour or gouache. Also conceivable, however, is that Friedrich intended to produce a hand-coloured etching of the view, which would explain the uppermost of the two fine lines along the lower edge. Were that the case, the space below the said line would have contained a caption or “legend”.

Besides delivering impressive proof of Friedrich’s working method, as a double page from a sketch book, this work seems to be the only drawing of this size dating from the period prior to his stay in Greifswald in 1801.17 Furthermore, there is only one other sketch book veduta of a comparable degree of detail dating from this period and that is the work Briesnitz on the Elbe18, which makes do without any staffage at all.

It is therefore with great pleasure that together with Emanuel von Baeyer, we are able to offer for sale a drawing by Friedrich that until 2009 was completely unknown, putting it on the market for the first time on the eve of the 250th anniversary of his birth.

  1. Johann Gottfried Quistorp (1755–1835) was an architect, painter and university lecturer.

  2. Jens Jørgensen Juel (1745–1802), Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard (1743–1809) and Christian August Lorentzen (1749–1828).

  3. The Dresden painter Jacob Crescenz Seydelmann (1750–1829) is widely regarded as the inventor of sepia technique, which Friedrich experimented with and continued developing during this period.

  4. The Swiss landscapist, draughtsman, etcher and engraver Adrian Zingg (1734–1816) produced painstakingly detailed landscapes that evince a “romantic” understanding of art and made him an important precursor of the Dresden Romantics.

  5. Caspar David Friedrich und die Vorboten der Romantik, exh. cat. Museum Georg Schäfer Schweinfurt und Kunstmuseum Winterthur 2023, München 2023, pp. 27–28.

  6. The dating and geographical localization of our drawing are attributable in large part to the expert appraisal by Börsch-Supan.

  7. Sieglinde Nickel, Dresden und seine Umgebung um die Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig 1989, p. 87.

  8. That this drawing comes from one of the two dispersed Berlin sketch books can be ruled out on the basis of its smaller dimensions. Friedrich scholars have not yet attributed our drawing to any one of the known sketch books by the artist.

  9. Cf. Caspar David Friedrich, Figural Studies, ca. 1799, pen in brown ink, pencil on laid paper, 23.7 x 19.2 cm Kupferstichkabinett Berlin, inv. no. SZ CD.Friedrich 80 recto and Caspar David Friedrich, Figural Studies, ca. 1800, pen in grey-black ink, pencil on laid paper, 24.2 x 18.8 cm, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin inv. no. SZ CD.Friedrich 106 recto

  10. Caspar David Friedrich. Die Erfindung der Romantik, exh. cat. Museum Folkwangen Essen 2006 und Hamburger Kunsthalle 2007, Munich 2006, p. 76.

  11. Caspar David Friedrich und die Vorboten der Romantik, exh. cat. Museum Georg Schäfer Schweinfurt und Kunstmuseum Winterthur 2023, München 2023, p. 149.

  12. Ditmar Schreier, Es war einmal in Dresden. Geschichten und Anekdoten, Kassel 2009, pp. 15–16.

  13. Ernst Theodor Amadeus (actually Ernst Theodor Wilhelm) Hoffmann, “Der Goldne Topf,” in E. T. A. Hoffmann, Meistererzählungen mit 65 Illustrationen von Gavari, Zurich 1963, pp. 92, 103.

  14. Karl Gottfried Traugott Faber (1786–1863) trained in the studio of Johann Christan Klengel (1751–1824), who in 1800 was appointed professor of the new landscape painting class at the Dresden Academy.

  15. Caspar David Friedrich, Frau Am Fenster, 1822, oil on canvas, 44.1 x 37 cm, Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin, A I 918.

  16. Karl Gottfried Traugott Faber: Blick auf Dresden (View of Dresden), 1824, oil on canvas, 43 x 33.5 cm, Albertinum | Galerie Neue Meister, inv. no. 2010/07, © Albertinum | GNM, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, photo: Herbert Boswank

  17. Cf. Christina Grummt, Casper David Friedrich. Die Zeichnungen Das Gesamte Werk, Munich 2011, Vol. I: “Erste Versuche 1788–1790/94, Die Kopenhagener Akademiezeit 1794–1798 und Frühwerk 1798–1805” (until his stay in Greifswald 1801).

  18. aspar David Friedrich, Brisnitz an der Elbe, 20 May 1800, pen in brown ink over pencil, squared, scorings on vellum, private collection, cf. Grummt 2009 Vol. I, No. 217, p. 221 (illus.).

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