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Jakob Philipp Hackert

(1737 Prenzlau – 1807 San Piero di Careggio near Florence)

A Gnarled Oak Tree with Stone Debris. Pen and point of brush and brown ink over pencil. 34.5 x 44 cm. Inscribed “Etude d’après nature” in pen and ink in another hand.

Jakob Philipp Hackert, the landscape painter par excellence of Goethe‘s day, made a name for himself shortly after moving to Rome in 1768. His stay in the Eternal City lasted a total of eighteen years, during which time Hackert achieved con­siderable international fame as the foremost landscape interpreter of his era. A clear indication of his huge success may be seen in the ever longer „delivery times“ for his works, which were ordered not only by travellers on the Grand Tour, but also by European princely houses. In March 1786, Hackert was appointed court painter by King Ferdinand IV of Naples – one of the last absolute rulers of the epoch – and he moved to the south Italian capital that very summer. His contract contained a provision that the artist was to be relieved of his duties for three months every year so that he might explore the landscapes of his adopted country and thus find inspiration and motifs for his paintings. It was in Naples too, in the spring of 1787, that Hackert had his first, momentous encounter with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The great man of letters was to remain a lifelong friend, writing the first biography of Hackert‘s life after the painter‘s death in 1807.

In terms of both motif and style this characteristic, assiduously executed study fits into the artist’s œuvre of the 1790s. The stylistic similarity to the drawing Near Balsonaro, for instance, which Hackert made in 1793 (Nordhoff 870) and is now in the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin (inv. no. 8566), makes it probable that the work dates to this decade or at least arose between 1786 and 1798 during the time the artist spent at the court in Naples. As Claudia Nordhoff has pointed out, the study illustrates Hackert’s interest in rocks and trees as an expression of his “enlightened“ approach to nature. He demonstrates his refined draughtsmanship and keen eye for detail in the way he renders the different structures of the stone debris, the bark of the tree and the foliage, whereas the broad landscape in the background is merely hinted at, albeit with great delicacy and lucidity.

12.000 €

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