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Carl Fredrik Hill

(Sweden, 1849-1911)
Estimate
1 200 000 - 1 500 000 SEK
106 000 - 133 000 EUR
113 000 - 141 000 USD
Hammer price
1 100 000 SEK
Purchasing info
For condition report contact specialist
Lena Rydén
Stockholm
Lena Rydén
Head of Art, Specialist Modern and 19th century Art
+46 (0)707 78 35 71
Carl Fredrik Hill
(Sweden, 1849-1911)

"Skogsbacke" (Wooded hillside)

Probably executed in Fontainebleau 1876. Canvas 60 x 73 cm.

Provenance

Mr Leif Rosengren Collection, Billeberga.
Sven Harrys konstmuseum, Stockholm.
Private Collection.

Exhibitions

Kalmar Konstmuseum, Sweden, "Carl Fredrik Hill. 1849-1911", October 27 - December 8, 1968, cat. no. 9.
Lunds Konsthall, Sweden, "Svenska mästare", March 29 - April 27, 1969.
Malmö Konsthall, Sweden, "Carl Fredrik Hill", 10 April - 7 June, 1976, cat. no. 25.

More information

"Several paintings from this summer have been inscribed with 'Fontainebleau' and appear to be executed in the same spot – an abandoned gravel pit. From a sketch we see how Hill quite quickly found his way into this landscape, yet the number of studies show that it presented him with an important artistic problem to solve; it was as if he was caught in a game of chess with only a few pieces remaining. A few bushes stretch like green fires up towards the sky. The light is intense everywhere. […] It is a terrain covered in wounds”.

This is what Professor Sten Åke Nilsson wrote in the National Museum exhibition catalogue Carl Fredrik Hill from 1999/2000.

In the present painting, "Skogsbacke", the desolate road stretches upwards through the gravel pit, towards the trees in the background. The strong light is reflected in the gravel, and the sandstone shines almost white in sharp contrast to the darker trees. Despite the bright light the unsettled sky is covered in ominous-looking clouds. Tree-tops moving in the wind have been recreated using quick, alternate brushstrokes. The artist has attacked the terrain with both his brush and palette knife, and the painting is in places thickly pasted, almost sculptural, built up by dynamically connected fields of colour. Hill has also scraped off the paint in certain areas to such a degree that the surface structure of the canvas emerges in the sparse stone sections, and in the evocatively unsettled sky.

Hill’s biographer Adolf Anderberg has described this unsettledness; how the grandness of nature, its solitude and the way it is often overlooked spoke directly to Hill’s sensibility. "He was seized by a strong feeling of communion with these solitary landscapes. In their interpretation he expressed much of what burnt and wrestled within him. These images, often realised in a state of ecstasy, are even more revealing than a self-portrait by the artist."

In his comprehensive book "Carl Hill. Hans liv och hans konst" from 1951, Anderberg mentions two pieces that share clear points of contact with the present lot: "Grustag och björkar" and "Grusbacke". The latter, in particular, shows striking similarities to "Skogsbacke". Because "Grusbacke" has been dated to 1876 by Anderberg and was marked by the artist with ‘F-au’ (for Fontainebleau), there are reasons to believe that the present painting was also executed at the same place and time.

These depictions of the fading ground, where Hill wrestles with how to deal with a play of light and colour without shadows, form part of an unusual transitional phase in Hill’s painting. It would eventually result in the depictions of transcendental beauty of the blossoming fruit trees in Brolles/Bois-le-Roi from the spring of 1877.

Artist

Carl Fredrik Hill was a Swedish artist born in Lund. Hill is considered one of Sweden's formost landscape painters. His fate and artistry are perhaps the strangest but most interesting in Swedish art history. Born in an academic home in Lund, despite his father's protests, he managed to begin studies at the Art Academy in Stockholm and then traveled to France, where he came in contact with Corot's landscape painting. He found his inspiration in Barbizon and later on the River Oise, in Luc-sur-Mer and Bois-le-Roi. He painted frantically with the hope of being accepted into the Salon de Paris. Already during his student years, he struggled with an incipient mental illness and at the age of 28 he was taken to the mental hospital in Passy. During the hospital stay he began his rich production of drawings and then continued with the production after his return to Lund, where he was cared for by his family for the rest of his life. In thousands drawings, a fantasy world of figures scenes appears. Today, Hill's river landscape and flowering fruit trees from the years in France, together with the visionary drawings from the period of illness in Lund, have received great recognition. His art depicts a loneliness and longing that is easy to get caught up in. He is mainly represented at the Malmö Museum and at the National Museum in Stockholm.

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