Karl Friedrich Schinkel - Gothic Church on a Rock by the Sea

Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Gothic Church on a Rock by the Sea

Oil on canvas (relined). 75.5 x 100 cm.

The prime version of Karl Friedrich Schinkel's “Gothic Church on a Cliff by the Sea” (oil on canvas, 72 x 98 cm), and the prototype to the present, newly discovered second version was painted in 1815 and purchased in the same year by the Berlin Consul Wagener. After being transferred into the hands of King William I of Prussia in 1861, it was displayed in the Berlin Nationalgalerie (inv. no. W. S. 210) as of 1876, becoming an immediate success and remaining one of its highlights to this day. A second version painted by the artist and owned by the merchant Schiffert was exhibited in Königsberg in 1832. This work was included in Börsch-Supan's 2007 catalogue raisonné as no. 230 but described as “lost”, as its whereabouts were at that time unknown, whilst our piece was included as no. 230a.
The dimensions of the present work are almost identical to those of the piece in Berlin, and it copies the composition in great detail. There are only slight variations to the composition and colouring of the sky, such as differently positioned clouds and a slightly altered use of light. The painterly quality of the work has been disputed several times in the past, with Börsch-Supan even supposing it to be a copy painted by Gustav Adolf Boenisch (1802-1887), since one of his copys after Schinkel is known to have been exhibited in Königsberg in 1833.

Die 1815 entstandene Erstfassung - das Vorbild zu unserer neu entdeckten Zweitfassung - des Gemäldes "Gotische Kirche auf einem Felsen am Meer" von Karl Friedrich Schinkel (Öl auf Leinwand, 72 x 98 cm) wurde noch im selben Jahr vom Berliner Konsul Wagener erworben. Nachdem es 1861 an König Wilhelm I. von Preußen übergegangen war, bildet es seit 1876 bis heute einen der Höhepunkte der Berliner Nationalgalerie (Inv. Nr. W. S. 210).
Eine eigenhändige Zweitfassung aus dem Besitz des Kaufmanns Schiffert wurde 1832 in Königsberg ausgestellt. Sie wurde 2007 von Börsch-Supan in sein Schinkel-Werkverzeichnis zwar unter der Nr. 230 aufgenommen, jedoch als "verschollen" bezeichnet, da sein Verbleib unbekannt schien. Dagegen nahm Börsch-Supan zudem unter der folgenden Nr. 230a unser vorliegendes Gemälde in sein Werkverzeichnis auf, welches das Berliner Gemälde in Format und Komposition sehr detailliert wiederholt und nur in der Gestaltung des Himmels und dessen Farbigkeit - die Wolken sind anders verteilt, die Lichtregie ist weniger dramatisch - auffällig anders gestaltet ist. In der Vergangenheit ist die malerische Qualität unseres Gemäldes mehrfach konstatiert worden, doch Börsch-Supan stufte es als eine vermutlich von Gustav Adolf Boenisch (1802-1887) gemalte Kopie nach Schinkel ein, da 1833 wiederum in Königsberg eine Schinkel-Kopie von Boenisch ausgestellt war.

However, the records of art exhibition held in Königsberg from 1832 - 33 (which were subsequently published in 2005 by Meyer-Bremen) as well as contemporary reviews of this show by Ferdinand Raabe and August Hagen mention without doubt the inclusion of a copy of the work in Berlin painted by Schinkel himself. The 1833 copy by Boenisch was a version of another work of Carl Friedrich Schinkel, namely his “Gothic Cathedral by the Water” from 1813 (Börsch-Supan, op. cit., p. 349-352, no. 210, illus.).

To determine for certain the authenticity of the work, an infrared scan was carried out in March 2010 to reveal the under drawing. Upon viewing the scan, Börsch-Supan wrote that he was convinced that the work “… is an authentic painting by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and not a copy, as I previously suspected. A copyist would have carried out an even under drawing throughout the entirety of the painting. It is even more important to note that Schinkel erred from the sketch in places. The style of drawing matches that in securely attributed works by the artist. For the low trees in the foreground of the work, Schinkel has merely drawn the skeletons of the branches and 'clothed' them in leaves, a copyist would have drawn out every detail of the original work.”

Thus, a further original painting can be added to Schinkel's oeuvre. The differences in thoroughness within various sections of the preliminary under drawing show that this second version was probably painted in his studio in presence of the original, probably still in 1815. It is also highly likely that this work is identical to that from the Schiffert Collection which is said to have been exhibited in Königsberg 1832, since the dimensions are identical. We would like to thank Professor Helmut Börsch-Supan for his kind and exceedingly helpful support in cataloguing this work.

Certificate

Helmut Börsch-Supan, letter dated 13.3.2010.

Provenance

Probably Schiffert collection 1832. - Sotheby´s auction, London, 12.10.1977, lot 105 (as by Schinkel). - Weinmüller auction, Munich, 8.-10.3.1978, lot 1327 (as copy by Ahlborn). - 766th Lempertz auction, Cologne, 5.12.1998, lot 1599 (as studio of Schinkel). - German private collection.

Literature

About the first version of the painting cf. Helmut Börsch-Supan: Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Bild-Erfindungen, Munich/Berlin 2007, p. 381-382, no. 229 and p. 139, colour plate XIXa.
About this version cf. Börsch-Supan, op. cit. , p. 382, no. 230 and no. 230a (illustrated).
About the exhibitions in Königsberg in the years 1832 and 1833 cf,: Verzeichnis der Kunst-Ausstellung in Königsberg im Februar und März 1832, Nr. 11 (Schinkel, Schiffert collection). - August Hagen: Ueber einige Gemälde der Kunstausstellung in Königsberg im Jahre 1832, Königsberg 1832, p. 23. - Ferdinand Raabe: Die Gemäldeausstellung in Königsberg, 1832, p. 9-11. - Verzeichnis der dritten Kunst- und Gewerbe-Ausstellung in Königsberg 1833, no. 134 (Boenisch). - Ferdinand Raabe: Die Dritte Kunst-und Gewerbe-Ausstellung in Königsberg, 1833, S. 15-16. - August Hagen: Bemerkungen über die dritte Kunstausstellung in Königsberg, Königsberg 1833, p. 29. - Rudolf Meyer-Bremen (ed.): Die Ausstellungskataloge des Königsberger Kunstvereins im 19. Jahrhundert, Cologne/Weimar/Vienna 2005, p. 21 (Schinkel, Schiffert collection) and 29 (Boenisch).

Exhibitions

Greifswald, Pommersches Landesmuseum, on loan 2000-2010 (as contemporary copy fter ach Schinkel). - "Was ist deutsch? Fragen zum Selbstverständnis einer grübelnden Nation". Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg 2006.

Lot 1879 Dα

Estimate:
150.000 € - 180.000 €

Result:
456.000 €