Description & Technical information

Adolph Menzel made numerous drawings of trees throughout his long career. As he wrote to his brother-in-law, during one of his travels, ‘By the way, the day was, without jest, very beautiful and very interesting due to the really fine stock of trees in this place. I’ve rarely seen such mighty oaks and beeches as are here.’ Although undated studies such as this are difficult to place chronologically within the artist’s oeuvre, the present sheet may be tentatively dated to the late 1880s or early 1890s.

This drawing bears, on the verso, the stamp of the Königlichen National-Galerie in Berlin, founded in 1861 and the precursor of today’s Nationalgalerie of the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin. The drawing is known to have entered the collection of the National-Galerie some time before Menzel’s death, since it was included in the museum’s catalogue of drawings, published in 1902. By the early 1930s, however, the present sheet had been deaccessioned by the museum, and it was part of a large group of drawings by Menzel, belonging to a private collection in the artist’s native city of Breslau, that was dispersed at auction in Berlin in 1932.

Among stylistically comparable drawings of trees by Menzel are two sheets still in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, both dated 1891, as well as a study of a tree trunk in the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and another drawing of a tree, dated 1885, in the Karen B. Cohen collection, New York.

Period:  1850-1900, 19th century
Origin:  Germany
Medium: With stumping, Carpenter’s pencil
Signature: Signed with initials A. M. at the lower right.
Inscribed Kat.1609 on the verso.

Dimensions: 20.2 x 12.5 cm (8 x 4⁷/₈ inches)
Provenance: Königlichen National-Galerie, Berlin (with their collection stamp [Lugt 1640] on the verso)
Private collection (‘Sammlung L.’), Breslau, until 1932
Their sale (‘Adolph von Menzel: Guaschen, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen der Sammlung L.- Breslau’), Berlin, Rudolph Lepke, 23 February 1932, lot 179 (‘Baumstudie’)
Private collection, Badem-Württemberg
Anonymous sale, Berlin, Villa Grisebach, 1 December 2006, lot 5
Jill Newhouse, New York, in 2007
Private collection.

Literature: Lionel von Donop, Katalog der Handzeichnungen Aquarelle und Oelstudien in der Königl. National-Galerie, Berlin, 1902, p.406, no.1609 (‘Baumstudie. – Bez. A. M. Papier, Blei, h. 0,302, br. 0,125.’, not illustrated).

Exhibitions: Probably Berlin, Königliche National-Galerie, Ausstellung von Werken Adolph von Menzels, 1905, no.1879 (‘Baumstudie’); Munich, Galerie Caspari, Adolph von Menzel 1815-1905: Ölgemälde, Gouachen, Pastelle, Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, 1932, no.40 (‘Baumstudie. Bleistift-Zeichnung, bez. A. M., Höhe 20 cm, Breite 12,5 cm. Donop 1609’).

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints