Portfolio with August Ludwig Most

The collection of the National Museum in Szczecin has received an extremely valuable monument - a portfolio with the works by August Ludwig Most. In the Museum's collections, there are currently 12 paintings by this artist.

The purchase has been financed by the funds of West-Pomeranian Marshal's Office and The Society of Friends of The National Museum in Szczecin. 

Objects from this portfolio will go to the Department of Conservation of the National Museum in Szczecin. Eight of them will be available in February 2018 at the exhibition "Biedermeier". An extensive exhibition of works by August Ludwig Most, including purchased objects, is planned by the Museum in 2020.

 

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The portfolio with the artistic legacy of August Ludwig Most contains over 70 works. Most of them are painting studies for paintings made with oil or watercolor technique. There are also drawings in pen, pencil and lithographs. The portfolio also contains several archival photographs documenting the portraits of Szczecin's teachers from the St. Mary's Secondary School painted by Most. Information on the works found in this book can be found in Most's catalog of works developed by his grandson Peter Paul Most in 1937. The purchased set is of great importance for Szczecin and Pomerania, almost half of the works present this region. This is the first such an extensive artistic source documenting the Pomeranian culture of the 19th century.

A particularly valuable study is the watercolor overlooking the main courtyard of the Pomeranian Dukes' Castle. It is a composition that precedes the creation of the painting that Most painted during his studies in 1828. The work is the only preserved view of the castle courtyard from that time, because the oil painting of Most was lost during World War II. 

Many of the Pomeranian genre scenes included in the portfolio are preparatory works for paintings known only from photographs found in the archives of The National Museum in Szczecin or in foreign Polish and German collections. It is worth mentioning the scene showing a rural family who stands in front of the house ready to go to church to baptize the child and the scene of baptism in the village church near Pyrzyce. The latter commemorates the ceremony in the Most family and is a collective portrait of the family. Another study presents the best man inviting the people to a country wedding. The work, showing a village inn near Pyrzyce, preceded an image that is now stored in the collections of The Pommersches Landesmuseum in Greifswald. Other studies for paintings depict preparations for Christmas, decorating the house for Corpus Christi, a sitting woman in folk costume of Pyrzyce, the heroine of the image by Most, currently in the collection of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg. Also noteworthy is the composition showing the interior of a rural school in Pomerania and a pen drawing, which is a study of the painting, in which a shoemaker sitting at the workshop greets comrades - war veterans. The painting on this subject was purchased in recent years by a private Pomeranian collector.

A scene showing a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Mother of God and the presentation of fish traders are studies for paintings in the collections or in the deposit of The National Museum in Szczecin.

Three other important works are landscapes from the area of Międzyzdroje with genre scenes from the life of Pomeranian fishermen. One of them shows a fishing family on the background of a dune cottage, the other is a scene taking place on the beach against the background of distant Kawcza Mountain. It is one of the projects for the painting "Evening on the Baltic" showing a fisherman welcoming the family after returning from the night fishing - a work in private collections in Duisburg. The third study presents a horse-drawn carriage standing on a dune next to a cottage waiting for fishermen returning from the catch - in the background of this seaside scene one can recognize Kawcza Góra.

Among the portraits, the most valuable ones are the image of the artist's father, painted during the preparation for the baptism scene, the portrait of Karolina, the first wife, the daughter's - also Karolina's - image and post-mortem portraits of both women. There are also pencil drawings with the images of other family members, including the pastor in the whole form inside the Szczecin St. Jacob Cathedral.

A unique composition is the figure of the Risen Christ - a study of the only religious picture painted by Most. This work was created while working on the altar painting to the church in Cartlow (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern).

An important supplement to these works is a lithograph from the 1830s depicting Most's wife along with the two oldest sons on the first day of Christmas. It was made according to the oil painting currently in the collection of the National Museum in Wrocław.

The second part of the portfolio are mainly oil studies related to August Ludwig Most's travels to Silesia and Bohemia. Among them there is a study of a genre scene - an image stored in Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig, a scene showing Silesian peasants returning from haymaking during the evening prayer in front of the chapel and a few studies of figures for this image.

Most was connected with Pomerania through his artistic work, the subject of paintings, drawings and sketches, and the education of students who continued his work. The painter documented the Pomeranian folk culture, weekday activities and ceremonies organized on church holidays and family occasions. He commemorated the surroundings in which the inhabitants of Pomerania lived, fishermen, craftsmen, burghers, the appearance of their homes and residential or farm interiors, furniture, appliances and objects, customs, costumes, especially festive ones but also those worn at work. He also portrayed many Szczecin residents and Pomeranians, members of his family as well as merchants, craftsmen, fishermen and farmers. Most devoted a series of portraits preserved on archival photographs to his colleagues, teachers working in the St. Mary's Secondary School.

By Dr. Ewa Gwiazdowska

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