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Rural Idyll with Flowered Hat - First-Class Painting by Waldmüller in Dorotheum’s Autumn Sale
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, € 300,000 – 400,000
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Austria’s most prominent and significant Biedermeier painter, is currently honoured with an internationally acclaimed retrospective at the Belvedere. In its auction of 19th century paintings on October 7th, 2009, the Vienna Dorotheum is going to offer a superb work by Waldmüller for which the artist pulled out all the stops: Children Decorating the Hat of a Conscript (Feuchtmüller, catalogue raisonné, No. 888). The picture, coming from a German private collection and measuring 55.5 by 44 centimetres, is signed “Waldmüller 1854” and estimated between 300,000 and 400,000 euros.
Thematically, the picture is related to A Recruit’s Farewell (Prof. Dr. Rudolf Leopold Collection), likewise dating from 1854. Both paintings illustrate an event that used to play an important role in peasant families – an emotional moment. A conscript is a young man summoned to serve in the army or in war on the basis of compulsory military service. The virtuoso composition of the present genre scene, which is highly suggestive, is determined by the refined play of light and shadow. The influx of sunlight on the left-hand side lends volume to the figures of the three girls and forms a striking contrast to the shadowed interior. Two upright standing children observing the scene appear in the dark section of the room.
“Waldmüller,” the catalogue reads, “tried to turn his genre scenes into a form of life philosophy.” The text continues: “Waldmüller’s genre painting is marked by the contrast between romantic glorification and a socially critical iconography. Our painting is dominated by a superficial rural idyll, for the young man – the conscript and protagonist - who is likely enlisted against his will, remains invisible and is only represented by his hat.”
The Dorotheum can look back on a number of remarkable results for works by Waldmüller. This spring, his painting Pittance from 1850 achieved the excellent price of 306,300 euros. The Dorotheum’s hitherto best Waldmüller result was attained for The Interrupted Pilgrimage, for which the Liechtenstein Museum spent 1.32 million euros in 2005.
Auction: 19th Century Paintings, October 7th, 2009