Carl Georg Adolph Hasenpflug
Ruins of an Abbey in Winter with a View of Heisterbach
Oil on canvas. 68 x 59 cm.
Signed and dated lower right: C. Hasenpflug 1842.
Inscribed by Hasenpflug to the reverse of the original stretcher: “Kloster Ruine im Winter / gemalt von C. Hasenpflug. 1842.“ later additionally inscribed “Halberstadt“ by an unknown hand. With a hand-written paper label from an exhibition reading “Der Preis des Bildes ist / Sechs und Dreißig Friedrichs d`or / es geht im Fall des nicht Verkaufs / zurück nach Halberstadt“.
Carl Hasenpflug joined the studio of the theatre painter Carl Gropius in Berlin in 1820, and received a scholarship from the Prussian King to visit the Berlin Academy in the same year. Johann Erdmann Hummel was to become his most important teacher there, and his lessons on perspective and optics were to provide the foundations for Hasenpflug's masterful depictions of architecture. These works, of which the present is an impressive example, became synonymous with his oeuvre as a whole.
The present work depicts an impressive architectural composition beginning in the foreground with the vaulted hall of a Romanesque abbey. A further room leads away from it on the left, and a dark, barred window indicates the presence of another room behind it. A further hall leads the viewer into the image, with a walled-up archway that presumably would have led into another room on the left. As so often in his works, Hasenpflug depicts the monumental interior in perfectly constructed perspective, but in a state of increasing disrepair. Here visible in the walled-off doorway, crumbling ceiling plaster and scattered blocks of stone that litter the floors.
The dark hallways of the foreground lead out onto a brightly lit scene of nature in the background of the work. The doorway acts a window, allowing the viewer to look out onto the ruins of the Cistercian abbey of Heisterbach in the Siebengebirge. The abbey was built in 1202 but fell into neglect after the secularisation of 1803, and there was even talk of demolition. The abbey became an important monument of the Romantic Movement and a symbol for the developing ideas regarding the preservation of historic buildings. Hasenpflug painted the abbey several times. However, in her comprehensive expertise, Dr. Antje Ziehr mentions this as the only version of this composition known to her in the artist's œuvre.
Dr. Antje Ziehr, Wilhelmshorst, 6.4.2017.
Auction Kunsthaus am Museum, Cologne, 18.-21.10.1978, lot 1738. - Private collection, Germany.