Heilmann Stiftung




The Christoph Heilmann Collection returns to the Lenbachhaus with an exhibition in 2019

In 2013, the Christoph Heilmann Foundation and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau concluded an agreement that laid the foundation for a long-term collaboration. Over a hundred works from the foundation's collection of early nineteenth-century landscape paintings have joined the museum's own holdings, a perfect complement that rounds out the Lenbachhaus's cherished collection.

Over the past two and a half years, an initial presentation in the galleries of the new Lenbachhaus offered a comprehensive survey of the collection, showcasing characteristic exemplars of the art of the Munich school and the Dresden romantics as well as the Berlin and Düsseldorf schools. The exhibition also highlighted an important subset of the foundation's holdings that is unrivaled among private collections in Germany: works of the Barbizon school of artists, who revolutionized landscape painting with the plein-air oil sketches they created in the Forest of Fontainebleau.


Around 1800, novel motifs, new techniques, and changes in the conditions in which artists worked propelled innovations in the painterly depiction of the landscape. Painters left the studio to roam scenic landscapes; the interior spaces of the imagination faded away as the immediate experience of nature beckoned. The intimate landscape painting emerged as the format conveying this personal experience of the natural scene; some pictures have a strikingly modern air and seem to anticipate the art of the Impressionists.

In the exhibition, the Christoph Heilmann Collection with its wide spectrum of landscapes by German, French, and Scandinavian artists finds itself in company that is inspiring in more than one regard. A dialogue unfolds between two visual media that were at the forefront of creative innovation in the nineteenth century: oil sketches painted on the scene or from recent memory from the Christoph Heilmann Foundation and early landscape photographs from the Münchner Stadtmuseum.

How did landscape painters and photographers in the nineteenth century see and depict the natural scene? Examples from the dawn of nature photography show that, like their brush-wielding colleagues, the men with the cameras departed from the well-traveled roads, sought out remote locales, and studied the weather and the rich variety of meteorological phenomena. The exhibition spotlights the fresh perspectives on nature pioneered by a rising generation of landscape painters and the spectacular new vistas and insights gleaned by the photographers who followed in their footsteps.

The exhibition is curated by Christoph Heilmann and Ulrich Pohlmann.


New ACquisitions

The foundation steadily enlarges its holdings. Among the outstanding works added in recent years that complement the various foci of the collection is the polished oil study "Entrance to the Parco Chigi" by ERNST FRIES (1801–1833), a preeminent south German Romantic of the 1820s who worked side by wide with Camille Corot. ADOLH VON MENZEL (1815–1905) is now represented in the collection by a watercolor/gouache study that has recently resurfaced, rendering the view of the courtyard from the window of his studio on Berlin's Marienstraße. JEAN-FRANÇOIS MILLET (1814–1875), like his close friend Théodore Rousseau, ranks among the great BARBIZON PAINTERS. The foundation was able to acquire a significant early work that shows a peasant girl, naked and lost in thought, by the bank of a brook.

Another signification addition to the BARBIZON PAINTERS collection came in 2016, when the foundation purchased an early work by PAUL HUET, a scene in the ancient forest of Villers-Cotterêts. The subject of the composition, a secluded spot inside a forest, foreshadows innovative developments in landscape painting; the fashionably dressed seated figure is probably the writer Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870).


Scholarly catalogue of the holdings

The foundation continually works to subject its growing collection to scholarly analysis. Supplements to the existing catalogue of the holdings, titled Frühe Landschaftsmalerei des 19. Jahrhunderts in Deutschland und Frankreich (ed. Christoph von Heilmann, Heidelberg: Wunderhorn 2013/2015), that document the newly acquired works are published in intervals of two to three years.

Symposia / Lectures

Lecture series, symposia, and research projects are organized to consider the foundation's collection in broader perspectives and connect the analysis of the works to larger issues in the scholarship on early landscape painting.

For example, the symposium Mobilität und Naturerfahrung im 19. Jahrhundert examined the question to which extent landscape artists' travels to destinations near and distant, which came to be seen as obligatory in the nineteenth century, had a crucial influence on their work. To read the article on ArtHist please click here.

The accompanying book Landschaftsmalerei, eine Reisekunst?—Mobilität und Naturerfahrung im 19. Jahrhundert presents contributions by renowned international experts that offer an extensive discussion of the particular situation in which traveling landscape painters worked.

Research and edition project on Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1750–1819)

A multiyear research and edition project is devoted to a salient example of the transfer of ideas and techniques between France and Germany in the field of landscape painting around 1800. It focuses on the German translation of Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes' Élémens de perspective pratique, à l'usage des artistes, suivis de Réflexions et Conseils à un Élève sur la Peinture, et particulièrement sur le genre du Paysage (Paris 1799/1800), which came out in 1803, only three years after the original.

One goal of the project is to assess the role the translation played in helping to establish the oil study as a widespread practice in nineteenth-century European art. Methodologically, it takes inspiration from the scholarship on French-German cultural transfer and on translation as a medium of intercultural communication. The project will inquire into the ways the book was creatively adapted for a German readership, which libraries held copies, and which members of the avant-garde in landscape painting such as Caspar David Friedrich, Johan Christian Dahl, Johann Georg von Dillis, or Carl Blechen, as well as German explorers like Alexander von Humboldt or collectors like Maximilian Speck von Sternburg, took note of Valenciennes' groundbreaking ideas.


A tour of the exhibition with...
World Receivers. Georgiana Houghton – Hilma af Klint – Emma Kunz

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