Ludwig von Hofmann

Reiter an der Felsenbucht, undated

Gemälde von Ludwig von Hofmann, Öl auf Leinwand, 48 x 64 cm

Ludwig von Hofmann (1861–1945), Reiter an der Felsenbucht, undated

Genre Painting
Materials Oil on canvas, laminated onto canvas
Size 48 x 64 cm
Signature monogrammed top right: LvH

Restored with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Kunststiftung

Research status

Provenance is unclear and research continues.

The Myster Buyer

Volker Westphal (1938–2017), who sold this painting to the Berlinische Galerie in 2018, had worked as an art dealer in Berlin since 1966. His last business premises were in a spacious apartment at Kaiserdamm 118. We do not know when or from whom he bought “Rider in the Rocky Bay”. In 2012, it was listed for sale by the auction house Hugo Ruef in Munich under the title “Naked Boy on Horseback on the Beach of a Rocky Seashore”. The valuation price was extremely low and it sold for € 9,000. It was then acquired by the gallery Kunkel Fine Art, also based in Munich.

Seite eines Auktionskatalogs mit Gemälde von Ludwig von Hofmann, mit handschriftlichen Notizen

Entry in the auction catalogue published by Hugo Ruef in 2012

Auction catalogue Hugo Ruef, 2012

© Repro: Berlinische Galerie
Gemälde von Ludwig von Hofmann, Detailansicht der Rückseite

The “Guttmann” label on the stretcher frame

Ludwig von Hofmann, Reiter an der Felsenbucht, undated (Back, Detail)

© Repro: Kai-Annett Becker

Little is known about the painting’s whereabouts before 2012. A crucial lead was provided by the stretcher frame, where the name “Guttmann” was just about legible, and investigations revealed that in 1917 it had been part of a collection owned by the merchant Albrecht Guttmann (1845–1919), whose address was Am kleinen Wannsee 2, a villa in the outskirts of Berlin.

On 18 May 1917, more than 20 items from Albrecht Guttmann’s collection were auctioned at the gallery run by Paul Cassirer and Hugo Helbing on Kurfürstendamm. Among these were major works by Claude Monet and Max Liebermann.

Gemälde von Max Liebermann, Öl auf Leinwand, 113 x 152 cm

Another work from 1900: Boys Bathing by Max Liebermann, now at the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin

Max Liebermann, Badende Knaben, 1900

© Copyright has expired, Photo: Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin
Gemälde von Claude Monet, Öl auf Leinwand, 65,4 × 92,6 cm

Now at the Art Institute of Chicago: Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge of 1900

Claude Monet, Waterloo Bridge, Gray Weather, 1900

© The Art Institute of Chicago, CC0 Public Domain Designation
Auktionskatalog, Detailansicht mit handschriftlichen Notizen

A vital clue: the buyer’s name was noted in an auction catalogue.

Extract of auction catalogue „Moderne Gemälde, die Sammlung Albrecht Guttmann […]“, 1917

© Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

On that occasion, “Rider in the Rocky Bay” was offered for sale as “Naked Rider”. Notes in an auction catalogue preserved in Zürich tell us that the painting was purchased for 2,050 marks by one Wilhelm Caspari of Wilmersdorf in Berlin. But who was Wilhelm Caspari?

The Berlin address directory for 1917 lists two people with this name: a lawyer living between Grunewald and Schmargendorf (in what is now Wilmersdorf) and a doctor in Charlottenburg. Both were persecuted after 1933 because of their Jewish origins. The lawyer died in 1936. The doctor, a leading German cancer specialist in his day, met his death in 1944 in the Łódź Ghetto. Had one of these men bought the painting from Cassirer and Helbing? Did he still own the work in the 1930s? Had he been obliged to give it up because of Nazi persecution? And is “Rider in the Rocky Bay” the same painting as one of about the same size, listed as “Rider on the Beach” along with the owner’s initials M.S., offered for sale on 2 July 1936 by the auctioneers Mandelbaum and Kronthal on Kurfürstenstrasse in Berlin? Further research is needed to answer these pressing questions.