Carl Gustav Carus (Leipzig 1789 - 1869 Dresden)
Autumn Landscape, Hosterwitz, c.1835/50
Oil on paper
13.5 x 17.5 cm
Dresden art market
Franz Ulrich Apelt collection, Zittau
(purchased from a Dresden gallery in 1928 as Blick über bewaldeten Abhang ins weite Land [Herbst in Hosterwitz])
Marianne Prause, Carl Gustav Carus. Leben und Werk, Berlin 1968, p.152, fig. 300
(the catalogue description mistakenly refers to a different work)
Carl Gustav Carus’s earliest oil sketches of the countryside around Dresden are dateable to the mid-1820s. He had probably been encouraged to sketch before the motif by the Norwegian painter Johan Christian Dahl, who had moved to Dresden in 1818. Dahl’s own plein-air studies exerted a widespread influence on early nineteenth-century landscape painting. From the mid-1830s onwards, Carus’s preferred landscape motifs were subjects sketched in the surroundings of Pillnitz. He had purchased a country property near Schloss Pillnitz in 1832 and regularly explored the countryside near his house.
The present oil study was executed in Hosterwitz, a village on the River Elbe near Pillnitz in Saxony. Carus has selected a viewpoint above the steep banks of the river, overlooking the landscape in an easterly direction. Both the viewpoint and the motif share similarities with an oil study by Carus titled Landscape, Hosterwitz. The latter study was probably painted in the grounds of a villa set on the steep banks above Hosterwitz. The villa was purchased by the Lüttichau family, friends of the artist, in 1844.
The heterogeneous character of Carus’s œuvre makes it difficult to date the present study with any degree of certainty. Stylistically, it can be placed between the studies of a similar motif dated by Marianne Prause to about 1830 – where colouristic elements are subordinated to detail – and the somewhat less detailed studies of Hosterwitz dating from 1852. These latter studies, titled Haus Carus, Pillnitz and Villa in Hosterwitz, show greater interest in colouristic effect. The Carus expert Dirk Gedlich compares these two later studies with the present study.
Carus is one of the outstanding figures of the age of Goethe. A man of many talents, he was active as a physician, a natural scientist, a man of letters as well as being a painter of the first rank. He played a prominent role in the German Romantic movement both as an artist and as an author of important theoretical writings. His Briefe zur Landschaftsmalerei are regarded as of seminal importance in the understanding of early nineteenth-century thinking about art.
Carus was born in Leipzig in 1789. His father was the owner of a dye factory. He enrolled as a student of medicine at the University of Leipzig in 1806. During his medical studies he attended in his free time the Academy of Arts where Friedrich August Tischbein and Hans Veit Schnorr von Carolsfeld were professors. He completed his studies in medicine at Leipzig University in 1811 with a doctorate and qualified as a university lecturer. He was appointed Professor of Gynaecology at the Medical-Surgical Academy in Dresden in 1814. Carus’s œuvre is indebted to the enduring artistic influence of Caspar David Friedrich, a close friend from 1817 onwards. Carus’s work is also indebted to the influence of Johan Christian Dahl. Carus was to distance himself from Friedrich’s influence in the late 1820s, going on to develop a more personal form of artistic expression. He continued to practise medicine and in 1827 was appointed personal physician to the Saxon royal family. As Royal Physician he was in Rügen and the Riesengebirge. He travelled in Italy, England and Scotland and was also in Paris. He met Goethe in Marienbad in 1821 and the two men shared a long-standing friendship. This friendship is recorded in their correspondence. Carus died in Dresden in 1869.
We are grateful to Dirk Gedlich, Dresden, who has confirmed the attribution to Carus after examining the painting in the original. He will be including it in the revised edition of the Carus catalogue raisonné compiled by Marianne Prause.
 Carl Gustav Carus. Natur und Idee, exhib. cat., Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen and Berlin, Staatliche Museen, June 2009 – January 2010, Dresden and Berlin 2009, ‘Natur und Idee’, no. 203, c.1850; Prause, op. cit., no. 358 (Pr. dates the study to the period after 1835).  Prause, op. cit., nos. 384 and 387.  See Carl Gustav Carus, exhib. cat., op. cit., ‘Natur und Idee’, nos. 71-2.  See Carl Gustav Carus, Zehn Briefe und Aufsätze über Landschaftsmalerei mit zwölf Beilagen und einem Brief von Goethe als Einleitung, 1815-35, Leipzig and Weimar 1982.