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Carl Blechen

Young Oak Tree

1820s
Painting out-of-doors became increasingly important in the early 19th century. Blechen set himself the task of painting a tree; he isolated it from its setting, the better to study it. He attempted to capture its reality, observed at a specific time of day and under specific light. By painting the particular – individual objects and the conditions under which they were seen – artists could better understand the world. Yet this work is a study, not an end in itself; the knowledge Blechen gained while making it would help the painter when he was at work in the studio.

Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Brose (1807–1869), Berlin, Germany; his son Carl Brose, Berlin, by inheritance (?) [1]

before 1939
Walther Heinrich [pseudonyms: Walter Heinrich, Walther Unus; Walther Heinrich-Unus; Walther Ehrenfried] (1872–1939), Berlin, Germany [2]

1939 – 1969
Gertrud Heinrich (1880–1969), Berlin, Germany, by inheritance [3]

1989 – 1989/11/06
Thomas Le Claire, Hamburg, Germany [4]

1989/11/06 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Thomas Le Claire [5]

The main source for this provenance is Paul Ortwin Rave's catalogue raisonné, cat. no. 233 [Rave, Paul Ortwin. “Karl Blechen, Leben, Würdigungen, Werk.” Berlin: Deutscher Verein für Kunstwissenschaft, 1940. p.168, cat. no. 233]. Exceptions and other supporting documents are noted.

[1] The Berlin banker Brose started collecting Blechen's work during the artist's lifetime in 1838. According to Theodor Fontane, Brose owned about 70 oil paintings and 7 binders containing hundreds of drawings and sketches [Fontane, Theodor, 1882, cited after Rave, p. 84.] Brose purchased the major part of his collection from the Berlin art dealer Louis Friedrich Sachse and at the auction of Blechen's estate at the Berlin Academy in December 1853. Rave lists Brose as owner of the Young Oak Tree, however, the work is not included in the sale of Carl Brose's Blechen collection in 1928 [“Sammlung C. Brose, Berlin; 140 Gemälde, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen von Karl Blechen.” Hollstein & Puppel Kunstantiquariat, Berlin, November 8–9, 1928].

[2] Walter Heinrich was a banker, art collector and writer, who used the pseudonyms “Walther Unus” and “Walther Ehrenfried.” As “Walther Unus” he published several articles about Blechen in the 1920s. He owned a large number of works by Blechen, among them several studies of trees [e.g: “Carl Blechen. Zwischen Romantik und Realismus.” Prestel-Verlag, Munich, and Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, 1990, cat. no. 62, 205, 206, 207]. His nephew Ernst Heinrich remembers The Young Oak Tree hanging in his uncle's apartment in Berlin, Suarezstrasse 47 [letter by Ernst Heinrich to A. Kausch, NGC Provenance Research Project, dated 2007/12/19, NGC curatorial file; telephone conversation with A. Kausch, 2007/01/04].

[3] Gertrud Heinrich was Walther Heinrich's sister, who shared an apartment with him. She inherited her brother's entire collection after his death in 1939 [letter by Ernst Heinrich to A. Kausch, dated 2007/12/19, NGC curatorial file]. According to Rave's catalogue raisonné, the collection included more than a hundred works by Blechen in 1940 [Rave, p. 537].

[4] Art dealer Thomas Le Claire acquired the work from the heirs of Gertrud Heinrich in 1989 [Emails to A. Kausch, dated Nov. 22 and Nov. 23, 2007, NGC curatorial file].

[5] Accession Log [NGC curatorial file].

Artist
Title
Young Oak Tree
Date
1820s
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil on wove paper, mounted on paperboard
Dimensions
38.5 x 26.6 cm
Nationality
German
Credit line
Purchased 1989
Accession number
30398