• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7438

    19th Century European Art

    23 January 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 28

    Johan Christian Clausen Dahl (Norwegian, 1788-1857)

    Die Lochmühle in der sächsischen Schweiz

    Price Realised  

    Johan Christian Clausen Dahl (Norwegian, 1788-1857)
    Die Lochmühle in der sächsischen Schweiz
    signed and dated 'Dahl/1825' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    12 1/8 x 9½ in. (30.8 x 24.3 cm.)
    Painted in 1825.

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    Born in Bergen, Norway, Johann Dahl studied at the Copenhagen Academy, where he was influenced very much by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg's emphasis on direct study from nature and by Dutch landscape painting of the 17th century. In 1818 he travelled to Dresden, where he befriended the Great German Romantic, Caspar David Friedrich, who was 14 years his senior. The two artists collaborated closely, sharing a house together with their families, and becoming both recognized as authorities on cultural questions throughout Northern Europe.

    Dahl's paintings are more naturalistic and less meditative than those of his friend. This is clearly evident in the present work, which combines the influence of Dutch artists such as Jacob Ruisdael, obvious in the treatment of the waterfall and the motifs on the left of the composition (see fig. 1) and the more dominating mass of pine trees on the right, which are typical of Dahl and Friedrich's Prussian landscapes. As is frequent in Romantic works of this type, human activity is defined by a humble and subservient position relative to the natural world.

    The present work was painted in the Liebethaler Grund, a narrow and picturesque valley that was a favourite source of inspiration in the 19th century for painters, poets, writers, and composers, including Karl Blechen, Hans Christian Andersen, and Richard Wagner; it was known as the gateway to Saxon Switzerland, a mountainous region near Dresden, nowadays a national park. Dahl and Friedrich painted there frequently throughout the 1820s, and the lush beauty of the surroundings sometimes encouraged Friedrich to paint in a style closer to the naturalism of his younger friend - with fresher greens, and slightly looser brushstrokes (see fig. 2).

    Untraced since the 19th century, the present work has hitherto been known only from a lithograph and a tiny pencil sketch (see Bang, op. cit., vol. iii, plate 202). The early provenance, unclear to Professor Bang in her monograph on the artist, can now be properly established due to the dating of the painting to 1825.

    We are grateful to Professor Marie Lødrup Bang for confirming the authenticity of this work.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Friedrich Lucanus, Halberstadt.
    His sale; R. Lepkes, Berlin, November 1880.
    Private collection, Germany
    Thence by descent.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of a German Private Collector


    J.C. Dahl, 'Letter to Apotheker Luchinus in Halberstadt', 18 December 1826, Dahl's Diaries, Ms. 1001, 8, University Library, Oslo.
    Berliner Kunstblatt, 1828, p. 217.
    Dresden Abendzeitung, 1839, p. 940.
    G. Parthey, Deutsche Bildersaal. Verzeichnis der in Deutschland vorhandenen Oelbilder verstorbender Maler alle Schulen, 2 vols., Berlin, 1863, vol. I, p. 307, no. 1.
    A. Andresen, Die Deutschen Maler-Radierer des Neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1878, vol. 1, pp. 72f.
    F. von Boetticher, Malerwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts, Dresden, 1891-1901, 2 vols., no. 15.
    M.L. Bang, Johan Christian Dahl, 1788-1857, Life and Works, Oslo, 1987, pp. 169-170, vol. 2, no. 497, as Millhouse in the Liebethaler Grund.


    Halberstadt, 1828, no. 142.