Franz Xaver Gräßel

Black Forest Landscape with House, um 1890

About the object

Gräßel repeatedly chose unusual details for his paintings. Using loose brushstrokes, he combines areas of shadow and light. His tonal palette comprises different shades of brown and green, which he combines in an atmospheric study in an impressionist style.
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Unlike other members of the Gutach artists’ colony, Franz Gräßel often chose unusual and unexpected compositions for his paintings, as seen in the narrow vertical format of this painting. The center of the composition is occupied by a massive wooden fence rendered in broad strokes of gray running crosswise over the image. To the right is a large, gnarled tree, which no longer bears leaves and is likely already dead. The meadow beyond the fence shows thick grass, with small daubs of white suggesting meadow flowers with white blossoms. In the background we see a Black Forest house with a gray roof, perhaps covered in wooden shingles or even thatch. Gräßel uses very loose, even sketch-like brushstrokes to create the striking atmosphere of this painting. The interplay of differing tones of green and brown verges on abstraction, although the subject matter is still recognizable upon closer inspection. Here, as also in the painting Meadow Slope, Gräßel addresses themes of transience-in particular with the dead tree, but also with the seemingly abandoned Black Forest house. Even at that time, artists feared that the traditions and customs of the Black Forest could not be maintained in the face of industrialization and the modernization of society. TILMANN VON STOCKHAUSEN (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)

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