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Winter Auctions 19.–20.11.2021

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Keller, Ferdinand
1842 Karlsruhe - 1922 Baden-Baden.
Baroque portal and cypresses on a Mediterranean shore.
Oil on canvas. Signed lower left and dated 1898. Verso on a label handwritten numbered «13».
H 124, W 99 cm (support). Elaborate frame.
An ethereal female figure, cloaked like an antique column, pensive and deeply immersed in unfathomable thoughts, stands, as if sprung from the shadowy realm of a Homeric heroic epic, at the mysterious, cypress-covered bay of a dimly abysmal lyrical fantasy landscape, a place where time seems to stand still.
This almost otherworldly, ghostly dream world, idealised to elegant aloofness, springs from the dark, diffuse light and intoxicating, sultry musky haze of the sophisticated salon world of the late 19th century. In the spirit of «l’art pour l’art», this symbolist composition is detached from comprehensible plot contexts and rather a painted poem, dreamlike, albeit ominous in content.

In his later work, Ferdinand Keller abandoned the opulently staged heroism and pompous character of his history painting. Instead he devoted himself to an examination of his contemporary model, the symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin, who inspired him to create transcendent dream visions of a Mediterranean-antique character with a sombre, occult quality. Above all, Böcklin’s most influential and enduringly successful pictorial invention, «The Isle of the Dead», an incunabulum of the late Romantic longing for death and of the decadent «fin de siècle», inspired the professor at the Akademie Karlsruhe to create this hitherto unknown masterpiece, which has remained in aristocratic private ownership since its creation.
Authentication: We would like to thank Dr. Michael Koch, author of the catalogue raisonné, for the authentication and scientific consultation via E-Mail, based on photos, 06.07.2021.
Provenance: according to the consignor purchased directly from the artist; since then private property of the family of Neveu, Durbach.
Catalogue raisonné: Koch 328, 357 (cf.).

Condition report  


hammer price: 14000,- EUR
(starting price: 5000,- EUR)