Gustav Bauernfeind (German, 1848-1904)
Gustav Bauernfeind (German, 1848-1904)

King David Street, Jerusalem

Gustav Bauernfeind (German, 1848-1904)
King David Street, Jerusalem
with inscription 'aus dem Künstlerischen Nachlass von G. Bauernfeind. Jerusalem.' (lower right)
pen and black ink, watercolour and bodycolour on paper
11 ¾ x 15 ½ in. (29.8 x 39.4 cm.)
The artist's estate, 1904.
with Mathaf Gallery, London (inv. no. K.329).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
A. Carmel, Der Orientmaler Gustav Bauernfeind, 1848-1904, Leben und Werk, Stuttgart, 1990, no. 97, as: 'Oriental Street Scene, Jerusalem' (illustrated).
H. Schmid, Der Maler Gustav Bauernfeind (1848-1904) und der Orient, Stuttgart, 2004, no. 76, as: Oriental Street Scene, Jerusalem' (illustrated).

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Clare Keiller
Clare Keiller

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Lot Essay

In what is classified as Bauernfeind’s 'fourth Oriental journey', the years 1896-1904 found the artist resident in Palestine, an enigmatic and multi-faceted land where the artist would spend the rest of his life. From his first trip to Palestine in 1880, Bauernfeind was captivated by the Holy City with its architectural monuments and diverse characters.
King David Street in Jerusalem was a subject that captivated the artist (fig. 1): he had been drawn to Jerusalem because of its promise of combining the atmosphere of the old 'Holy City' with the aspects of modern urban life. Adhering to his tenet that 'the picture can be interesting only if the figures are characteristically present' Bauernfeind caringly renders the myriad expressions of life along this picturesque street honouring King David.
Though there were German colonies in Jaffa and Jerusalem, the 19th century standards of living were difficult and Bauernfeind had to endure heat, disorder and disease regularly. In an 1885 letter addressed to his mother and sister he wrote, '... Life here is at best an endless string of privations; yet I must admit that this rabble amongst whom I live here never fail to exert their peculiar fascination over me each time I step out into the street and catch sight of the procession of odd characters marching past. Anyone but a painter ... would die of boredom in this place.' Though he would return after each visit to Munich to finish his commissions and exhibit, he was to settle permanently in Palestine in 1896 until his death in 1904.
The present watercolour incorporates all of the elements for which Bauernfeind is most famous: his exceptional understanding of the architecture, his minute attention to detail and most of all his beautiful use of colour and light.

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