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Jakob Alt

(1789 Frankfurt am Main – 1872 Vienna)

A Mountain Landscape with a Resting Traveller. Water­colour over a preliminary drawing in graphite. 16.5 x 26.5 cm. Circa 1825.

This wonderfully freshly preserved mountain study is an early and fine work by the important landscape painter and water­colourist, Jakob Alt, who was the founder of a famous family of painters in Vienna. Alt received his initial artistic training in his native city of Frankfurt and, in order to continue his studies, he moved in 1811 to Vienna, where he was to live and work until his death. Originally trained as a history painter at the Vienna Academy, Alt discovered his penchant for landscape painting at an early stage and perfected his skills in this field through private study. During his numerous travels through the Austrian Alps and the Danube region the artist steeped himself in studies after nature and, by doing so, discovered suitable motifs for his painting work. Journeys to Upper Italy between 1828 and 1833 and later on to Rome broadened his artistic horizon and considerably enriched his choice of subjects.

The present study, made directly from nature, could have arisen as a result of the bizarre limestone formations in the Bohemian border region. Alt had been drawing models for books of lithographic views since 1819 and to this end travelled the length and breadth of the Habsburg Empire. Our sheet is conspicuous for its simple trueness to life. The lay of the land and the vegetation are convincingly rendered with the help of a skilful, fluent watercolour technique that employs only a few shades of colour. The picturesque rock formations stand out starkly from the gentle meadow slopes and wooded areas in the mild afternoon light. The outstanding feature of this beautifully rendered landscape is its spatial depth. In the right foreground a resting traveller surveys the broad landscape lost in thought; this repoussoir figure lends the work a romantically contem­plative note.

From the collection of Heinrich Stinnes, with his stamp on the verso (Lugt 1376 a); inscribed there in his own hand: “... from the estate of the industrial magnate Seybel, Vienna”. Alt’s authorship has been confirmed by Prof. Dr. Walter Koschatzky, Vienna.

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