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Heinrich Hoffmann

* 1814 – † 1896

Waldstudie (Forest Study)

Oil on canvas mounted on wood

Signed and dated at bottom right: H. Hoffmann 47.

Heinrich Adolf Valentin Hoffmann (b. 18 October 1814 Frankfurt am Main; d. 11 June 1896 Frankfurt am Main) was a student of Jakob Becker at the Städelsche Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt from 1843 to 1850, and had contacts to the artists Anton Burger, Philipp Rumpf and Jakob Fürchtegott Dielmann of the Kronberg Painters’ Colony1. Hoffmann, who worked primarily in the southwest of Germany and on study trips to the Alps, specialized in landscapes and was especially fond of forest landscapes2. This original work of his dating from his student days in Frankfurt was probably painted en plein air, given that its paramount concern is with the atmospheric representation of the rich greens of the forest. The viewer is struck first by the sturdy oak in the foreground that defines the central vertical axis of the oil study, while at the same time obscuring our view of the undergrowth beyond. Only in the left-hand third of the painting does Hoffmann afford us a deeper insight into the greenery. Yet the sense of intimacy generated by this little window onto a forest is attributable to more than just the limited depth in the middle and on the right of the study, being also a direct result of the artist’s skillful alternation of light and shade and his fine nuancing of the many different green tones of his palette. The free and vigorous brushstrokes that are still clearly visible, moreover, lend this scene from nature of 1847 an almost abstract quality that makes it seem very modern for the time it was painted.

  1. Wiederspahn August and Bode, Wilhelm, Die Kronberger Künstlerkolonie. Ein Beitrag zur Frankfurter Kunstgeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts, 3rd enl. ed., Frankfurt am Main 1982, p. 246.

  2. Thieme, Ulrich and Becker, Felix, “Hoffmann, Heinrich Adolf Valentin,” in Vollmer, Hans (ed.), Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, Leipzig 1924, Vol. XVII, p. 261.

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