Landscape on the Baar, 1911
About the object
The flat, expansive upland plateau of the Baar lies between the ridges of the Black Forest in the west and the Swabian Alp in the east. Despite the cloud-filled sky that tells us a storm is brewing, a kneeling man is toiling in the field, while further back in the painting it is possible to pick out a woman and a child.
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When he painted this landscape in 1911, Hans Thoma had long been a respected and celebrated artist. Thoma, who came from the Black Forest, had achieved success as a painter above all during his many years in Frankfurt am Main. From 1899 on he had also served as director of the Großherzoglich-Badische Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Baden Grand Ducal Academy of Fine Arts) in Karlsruhe and the Kunsthalle museum there. His private life, however, had taken a turn for the worse: in 1901, his wife Cella died, plunging him into depression for many years. In this picture, too, a somewhat gloomy, melancholy mood is discernable. The painting depicts a flat landscape on the Baar, a high plateau between the mountains of the Black Forest in the west and the Swabian Alb in the east. Almost two-thirds of the image is occupied by a sky filled with massive clouds. The lower third of the painting shows a landscape with meadows and fields, articulated only on the horizon with a few trees and the contours of several houses and farm buildings. Kneeling in the broad foreground meadow is a man, clearly occupied with field work; further back are a mother and child. In a landscape otherwise empty of human beings, these figures seem like mere accessories, lost in the expanse of nature. They are conspicuously isolated; the man and the woman with the child are far removed from each other. The imposing sky suggests windy weather; the clouds structure the image, while the lower portion shows a somewhat monotonous landscape. In this expressive painting, it seems almost as if Thoma had captured a gloomy premonition of events to come in the course of history. TILMANN VON STOCKHAUSEN (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)