Rudolf VON ALT (Vienna 1812 - Vienna 1905)

A Forest near Salzburg [recto]; A Mountain Hut [verso]

Signed and dated R. Alt 869 on the verso.
289 x 235 mm. (11 3/8 x 9 1/4 in.)


Dated 1869, the present sheet is part of a small group of watercolour views of woods near Salzburg painted by Rudolf von Alt in the autumn of that year. This was an important time for von Alt, and saw a distinct change in his work, with a renewed emphasis on the study and appreciation of nature. As the von Alt scholar Walter Koschatzky has written of the painter’s work during this significant period of his career, ‘The year 1869, however, was to bring about the definitive change, the actual turning point in his work...He turns away decisively from views of the city and vedute, nature now merges into a great unity. His stay in Aigen near Salzburg (September) this year seems to have been decisive. In his Salzburg drawings trees play a dominant role. The time of meticulous, painstakingly painted interiors is over.’ The same author also notes that, ‘In a whole group of Salzburger watercolours, which he produces in the autumn of 1869, when he is in Aigen, trees now play a new, dominating role; as the artist now and again sets about realizing the same idea in various attempts, shows that it is not a matter of chance…Alt is now free of all convention, free from the ordered compulsory brush, openly alone to his artistic will and thus at the beginning a new creative phase.’

The weeks he spent working in the woods near Salzburg in 1869 was also the first time that von Alt became particularly interested in trees as motifs, and painting what he referred to as ‘tree portraits’. This interest that would be renewed later in his career when, for his health, he spent the summer months between 1875 and 1877 in the spa town Teplitz, making watercolours of the tree-lined avenues of the park there, and also towards the end of his life, when he spent much time in Gastein, south of Salzburg.

Two other watercolours of woodland scenes near Salzburg, both dated September 1869 and depicting views of Salzburg from the Kapuzinerberg Hill and Salzburg from Mönschberg, are in the Albertina in Vienna; both are stylistically comparable with the recto of the present sheet. The same is true of another watercolour of this period by von Alt, a View of Salzburg with Hohensalzburg Castle, which is in the collection of the Princes of Liechtenstein in Vaduz.

Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby’s, 19 June 1986, lot 509
Private collection, UK.

Rudolf VON ALT

A Forest near Salzburg [recto]; A Mountain Hut [verso]


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