Untitled (Wäscherinnen in der Düne, Katwijk)
Combination gum dichromate print on textured water colour paper, printed 1901. 47 x 71.2 cm. Signed in ink lower right. - Along the edges slightly irregularly trimmed..
We would like to thank Monika Faber, Photoinstitut Bonartes, Wien, and Astrid Mahler, Albertina Wien, as well as Ulrich Pohlmann, Fotomuseum im Münchner Stadtmuseum, for kind information.
In 1896, Heinrich Kühn presented his first gum bichromates during the 'International Exhibition of Amateur Photography' in Berlin; in the following years, it was this procedure that brought him international renown. His four large-scale combination gum bichromates on offer here, each realised in different colour nuances, are all dated around 1900 when Kühn was at the height of his career, and they impressively demonstrate his complete mastery of this elaborate high grade printing process, to the development and improvement of which he had contributed significantly.
The similarities of Kühn's 'Wäscherinnen in der Düne' to Max Liebermann's painting 'Die Netzflickerinnen', also painted in Holland a decade previously and which, early on, was considered to be one of the painter's major works, are unmistakable. Both show women working outdoors, dressed in typical national costumes. The similarity of the motifs is continued on a stylistic level by the “painterly” effect of the gum bichromate, a technique in which the detailed reproduction of the motif recedes into the background in favour of an atmospheric, impressionistic representation.
Together with his fellow photographers Hugo Henneberg and Hans Watzek, Kühn specifically travelled to those areas that were also frequented by contemporary painters. In addition to Katwijk and Rotterdam [lot 15] in the Netherlands, Northern Italy was one of his repeatedly visited destinations - he also stayed at Lake Garda, among other places, several times - where possibly the lakeside landscape with dramatically dashing spray was photographed [lot 16]. The pastoral scene Heimtrieb [lot 17] could have been taken near Dachau, one of the centres of German open-air painting in the late 19th century; a similar photograph by Kühn, kept at the Fotomuseum in Munich's Stadtmuseum, suggests this.
All four present gum bichromates (lots 14-17) were originally part of the comprehensive collection of photographs by Heinrich Kühn from private collections in Southern Germany, which Lempertz auctioned in autumn 2017.