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Christoph Heinrich Kniep

(1755 Hildesheim – 1825 Naples)

Study Sheet with the Trunk of a Gnarled Oak Tree, Leafy Plants and Grasses. Pencil drawing. 20 x 29.7 cm. Signed and dated on the original mounting paper: “C. H. Kniep Napoli 1816”.

In 1785 Christoph Heinrich Kniep, a painter and draughtsman from Hildesheim, settled for good in Naples. There he joined the circle around Jakob Philipp Hackert and Johann Heinrich Tischbein, who recommended him to Goethe as a travelling companion. Although many other German artists left the city when the Kingdom of Naples came under French rule in Napoleon Bonaparte’s time, Kniep decided to remain. He made a living by selling his works to local clients and to travellers on the Grand Tour.

The present study sheet was probably made during one of the many excursions the artist undertook to La Cava valley near the little town of Cava dei Tirreni, not far from Salerno. The picturesque location with its lush southern vegetation was a very popular destination among the artists living in Naples. This simple, reverently drawn nature study is closely related to other study sheets from Kniep’s late period, such as those he made for the Tocco Album produced in 1816, for example, and for the compilation Disegni Originali dated 1818 (see Georg Striehl, Der Zeichner Christoph Heinrich Kniep (1755–1825). Landschaftsauffassung und Antikenrezeption, Hildesheim –Zürich – New York 1998, p. 260, figs. 342–343).

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