Carl Gustav Carus painting

Abenddämmerung (Evening Twilight) by Carl Gustav Carus, €280,000 (£239,315) at Schmidt.

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For nigh on 190 years, a painting by the German doctor, philosopher and accomplished artist Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869) had not been seen in public.

However, it was recently discovered among works amassed by a collector in Thuringia who died in 2021. On March 2 the work was offered by Schmidt (25% buyer’s premium) in Dresden.

The painting is listed in the catalogue raisonné, but only by referencing the catalogue of an exhibition held in 1837, the year the painting, Abenddämmerung (Evening Twilight), was created. The 20 x 16in (50 x 40cm) signed canvas depicts a scene from Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s drama Faust, which was first published in 1808. Faust and his assistant Wagner stand on a hill, looking down on a town in the last light of day.

Faust inspired picture

Goethe’s play inspired Carus on numerous occasions; he depicted several scenes from the story of the troubled doctor and his pact with Mephistopheles.

The painting offered here was a vastly different interpretation of the same scene with Faust and Wagner, executed in 1821 titled Osterspaziergang (Easter walk) which is now in the Folkwang Museum in Essen.

In a letter to a friend in 1836, Carus mentioned that he had started a new Faust painting, which was duly exhibited a year later at the Saxon Academy of Arts in Dresden. This was the work offered in Dresden.

It is not known how the painting came into the possession of its last owner; it is thought to have previously belonged to the 19th century director of a bank in Weimar.

On auction day with a starting price of €80,000, it attracted considerable interest and after a veritable flurry of bids, the price rose rapidly to €280,000 (£239,315), a new record for the artist and considerably above the previous high of €180,000 which had been set in Berlin in 2015 for Phantasie aus der Alpenwelt (Fantasy from the Alpine World).

The new owner is a German collector.