Anna Gerresheim, 15 years older than Elisabeth von Eicken, was also almost a decade ahead of Paul Müller-Kaempff in age. She came from a bourgeois family with many children in Ribnitz, which was financially strapped and initially expected the artistically gifted Anna to earn a respectable income from her painting. This applied above all to portraiture. But Anna Gerresheim freed herself from this expectation at an early stage. Study trips to Denmark, England and in 1883 to Paris directed her gaze to new artistic territory, whereby she received the decisive impulses from Barbizon's plein airism. Among the German painters, it was obviously Max Liebermann whose attitude impressed her.

Anna Gerresheim settled in Ahrenshoop in 1891 with her sister Bertha, who bought a plot of land and financed the construction of a house with savings from a teaching career in England. The sisters lived from their shared garden and from artistic instruction. Anna Gerresheim painted in nature, but some of her works go beyond a mere interpretation of landscape. In the painting "Jakob sieht im Traum die Himmelsleiter" (Jacob sees the ladder to heaven in a dream), she condensed a visual experience associatively into a vision. Perhaps she had observed a herding boy in the meadows around Ahrenshoop who had fallen asleep while resting. Above the wide plain, a staircase of clouds is coloured in translucent shades of pink in the glow of the evening sun. In the artist's imagination, the cloud formations shaped themselves into beings that ascend and descend between heaven and earth like wingless angels. A contemporary variant of the Old Testament legend, which had enriched the pictorial programme of Western art since the fourth century, had come into being. It is possible that the motif through which Anna Gerresheim expressed a religious feeling here goes back to her student days in Dresden. A picture by the Baroque painter and Rembrandt pupil Ferdinand Bol in the Dresden Gemäldegalerie shows Jacob, who has been taken away from the earthly world in a dream of revelation, as a symbol of promise. Did Anna Gerresheim have art in mind in this dream of revelation? In any case, it is clear that her artistic goals went beyond open-air painting oriented solely towards landscape.


  • Title: Jacob sees the ladder to heaven in a dream
  • Creator: Anna Gerresheim (1852-1921)
  • Date Created: 1895
  • Physical Dimensions: 62 x 43 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Ahrenshoop Art Museum, all rights reserved.
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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