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Wilhelm von Kobell, Horseshoeing

Reichskunstwart and Wouwerman Salute

Kobell, Wilhelm von (Mannheim 1766 – Munich 1853). The Horseshoeing. Sketch of the master occupied with the left hind foot, while the holders of horse and leg have a chat and the dog couching sideways seems to notice something. Pen and brown ink. 7⅛ × 10⅛ in (180 × 257 mm).

Beyond the proper sketch (3⅛ × 5¼ in [80 × 135 mm]) sketched, filling the leaf, manifold in faint pencil throughout, nevertheless, as thematically close, not chaotic as not quite unusual, but by far not the rule. See for instance the drawn study for the 1835 aquatint The Inn after Nic. Berchem, in which the group of horses is not only joined by inn keeper, courting couple and chicken, but also seven firing practices foreign to the aquatint. Here then left of the shoeing scene a team, on the right a woman hanging up the laundry, probably with a laundry cart to which two small wheels might be assigned, while below a big wheel is sketched. In the center amidst further hatching a man carrying something through an archway, but apropos wheels also one of Wouwerman’s closed high coaches could be conceived, to the occupation with the latter the smithy scene undoubtedly is due, see below. Further hatching as filler of the upper field.

Lower right in pencil 166 / Kobell by Edwin Redslob, see below, by which he addresses the father Ferdinand Kobell (Mannheim 1740 – Munich 1799). So then at the same place of the Bristol board in pencil by the same hand Ferd. Kobell. Beside this drawing the board bore the Kobell drawings The Dismounted Horseman with his Horse by the Tree and Standing Horse with Collar to the right here.

Based on present work the attributions to the father cannot be followed here and has rather to be thought Wilhelm’s hand as – so Helmut Tenner – the most important of the painters and engravers originating from Mannheim. And here in connection with his works in painting, drawing, and print after Philips Wouwerman (1619 Haarlem 1668), documented already for 1787 as just 21-years-old and remaining favorite right into the 1790s, following the father’s early direction.

“ The own schooling in Dutch routine (father Ferdinand) transferred upon the son, albeit in the decisive years (about 1788) he himself had already outgrown it. Hence against the father’s the early work of Wilhelm K. creates the impression of being almost backwards, and his progress took place very slowly; actually he achieved complete independence only at the age of 40. Certainly the manner of

his absorption of the great Dutchmen of the 17th cent. was uncommonly vigorous.

Up to the 90s his works are painterly skillful adaptations of (predominantly) Wouwerman, Berchem and Roos … ” (P. F. Schmidt in Thieme-Becker XXI [1927], 54 ff.). And

“ For our study Wilhelm Kobell is the most interesting one (of the family of father, uncle Franz & brother Egid) … We already observed … how towards the late rococo (about 1770/80) Wouwerman fell out of vogue … Wilhelm Kobell was just in this transitional period. ”

His present horseshoeing sketch in harmony with Wouwerman’s paintings on that score.

With splendid, utterly complete

Crozier of Basle with boatman’s hook

watermark Crozier of Basle with boatman’s hook

enclosed by broad ornamental chain with blazons (5¼ × 4 in [13.5 × 10 cm]) centered at the top edge, comparable with the about equal-sized Tschudin 324 (Heusler 1764), 329 (ibid. 1799), 338 (Düring 1787) & 362 (Strampfer & Heusler 1771), but as the mark of a mill apparently operating outside Basle not in Tschudin (“… with the exception of watermarks showing the Crozier of Basle but did not originate from Basle paper mills”). Missing in Heawood, too.

From the prior possession of Edwin Redslob (Weimar 1884 – Berlin 1973) as the

indeed justly called legendary first and only German Reichskunstwart

(1920-1933) during the Weimar Republic and by this

“ in charge of the artistic shaping of the Reich, that is for all public questions of art and culture of the German Empire … To this belonged decisions about state symbols like state emblem, coins, banknotes, stamps, flags, and distinctions, e.g. the eagle scutcheon of the German Empire. To his office also belonged the organization of exhibitions and public celebrations, so e.g. the artistic organization of the Constitution Days and the memorial ceremony in the Reichstag for the minister of foreign affairs, Rathenau, assassinated 1922 … ” (German Wikipedia July 2018).

A career phase downright tailor-made for Redslob, after he, 24-years-old, had advanced 1912 to the hitherto youngest German curator (Erfurt), followed 1919 by the direction of Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and September 1, 1920, parallel to Reichskunstwart, the appointment as director general of all Württemberg museums. In summer 1945 Redslob became co-founder, licensee and editor of the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel, 1948 co-initiator of the foundation of the Free University of Berlin, whose vice chancellor he was 1949/50. (All after Wikipedia as above.)

By his hand thus 166 / Kobell on present drawing and additionally Ferd. Kobell on said common mounting board, the latter here was considered necessary to be requalified as Wilhelm.

Offer no. 16,091 / EUR  535. / export price EUR  508. (c. US$ 614.) + shipping

  1. Gœdl-Roth, W. v. K., Druckgraphik, 1974, no. 140, ills. p. 128.
  2. à la Wouwerman’s carts as e.g. Schumacher, Ph. W. The Horse Painter of the Golden Age, 2006, vol. II, ills. 410, 431, 436 f., 440.
  3. Cf. such in Birgit Schumacher, op. cit., II, ills. 7, 174, 250, 364.
  4. Helmut Tenner, Mannheimer Kunstsammler und Kunsthändler bis zur Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts, 1966, p. 87.
  5. Gœdl-Roth, op. cit., p. 160: “Sept. 1787 / Journey to Treves; Kobell copies … Berchem and Wouwerman for Baron Fritz” regarding the latter’s 1649 painting Schumacher A350 with ill. II, 321, A Peasant greets a Horseman, but only with reference to K.’s drawing relating to this (ibid. II, ill. 322) and his two aquatints (G.-R. 78 f. with ills. of these p. 92).
  6. Johannes Jahn, Wörterbuch der Kunst, 5th ed., 1957, p. 584.
  7. Horst Gerson, Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der holländ. Malerei des 17. Jhdts., 2nd ed., 1983, pp. 331 & 338.
  8. Cf. Schumacher, op. cit., A21-A42 with color plates & b/w illustrations and for the rejected C3-C18.
  9. W. Fr. Tschudin, The Ancient Paper-Mills of Basle and their Marks, 1958.
  10. Edward Heawood, Watermarks mainly of the 17th and 18th Centuries, 1950.

„ Ich bin sehr zufrieden mit dem Objekt, dem Versand und auch mit der sorgfältigen Verpackung. Danke! “

(Herr N. B., 3. Januar 2003)