Description & Technical information

On his summer trips to Switzerland and the South Tyrol in the 1880s, Adolph Menzel often made drawings of rustic alpine farmhouses and barns, bridges and footways, attracted by the appearance of these unprepossessing, sometimes dilapidated wooden structures. As Marie Ursula Riemann-Reyher has pointed out, ‘Although Menzel continued to draw dramatic views of Baroque architecture during his journeys, in the late drawings he was often attracted by the strange, the peculiar. Darkly lit, picturesque street corners and alleys, dilapidated houses and sheds are subjects of the late drawings: everywhere he saw ruin, destruction, ugliness. These drawings exhibit an uncanny charm, his virtuosity producing an abundance of novel variations.’

In such drawings as the present sheet, the artist attempted to capture the effects of sunlight shining on the weather-beaten forms through tonal shading with a stumped pencil. Among stylistically and thematically comparable drawings by Menzel are a study of A Fence in Front of a Farmhouse of 1892, in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin, and an undated drawing of a Farmhouse in Unterseen, near Interlaken, formerly in the collection of the artist’s descendants in the Krigar-Menzel family.

This drawing was once part of the collection of prints and drawings assembled by the artist Robert Scholtz (1834-1912) in Budapest. A native of Silesia, like Menzel, Scholtz was among the leading decorative painters in Hungary in the second half of the 19th century, and his work can be found in a number of public buildings and churches in Budapest. He began collecting, with a particular emphasis on German Renaissance prints, in the early 1890s. Scholtz’s collection, which included seven drawings by Menzel, was dispersed at auction in Germany shortly before his death.

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

Dimensions: 12.7 x 20.1 cm (5 x 7⁷/₈ inches)
Provenance: Robert Scholtz, Budapest (Lugt 2241), his mark stamped on the verso
His sale (‘Sammlung R. Scholtz, Budapest’), Stuttgart, H. G. Gutekunst, 10-13 May 1911, lot 848 (‘Zerfallene Bauernhütte. 13 x 20’, sold for 150 Marks)
La Tâche Fine Art, Vaduz, Liechtenstein, in 2007 Private collection.