Gothic Ruins in a Park
  • Julius Eduard W. Helfft
  • Berlin 1818 - 1894
  • Gothic Ruins in a Park, 1845
  • Watercolour on paper,
  • signed and dated with pencil on the lower right:
    J. Helfft / 24. November / 1845
  • 223 × 292 mm
Private collection Munich
Irmgard Wirth: Berliner Malerei im 19. Jahrhundert,
Berlin 1990, p. 231, ill. 231, plate 25

During his studies at the academy of his native city of Berlin, Julius Helfft already specialised in depictions of architecture and landscapes, considerably influenced by his teacher Wilhelm Schirmer (1802-1866). Helfft also stayed true to these themes during his first extended sojourn in Italy, from 1843 to 1847. His landscape views were compelling in their topographical precision, without losing their artistic expressiveness, and during the artist’s lifetime found a wide distribution. The romantic view shown here likely depicts an artificial ruin nestled in a lush park landscape with a small lake, and was made in Italy, mirroring the era’s fervent yearning for nature. Subsequently, Helfft works on repeated commissions from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, under whose reign from 1840 to 1858 architecture and painting enjoyed great support in Prussia. For this reason, an equestrian statue of him was erected in front of the new national gallery in Berlin (now the Alte Nationalgalerie).

Along with the bulk of his estate, Helfft bequeathed a considerable sum to the Berlin academy to finance a scholarship in landscape painting.