Old Man's Treasure (Das Katzchen)

Karl Gussow1876

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Liverpool, United Kingdom

The artist was appointed to the staff of the Berlin Academy in 1876 as part of the reforms of the new Director, Anton von Werner. He sent ‘Old Man’s Treasure’, together with two other similar genre pictures with life size figures, 'Der Blumenfreund' and 'Verlorenes Gluck', to the Royal Berlin Academy in that year.

This painting was purchased in 1879 from one of the earliest Liverpool Autumn Exhibitions (LAEs). A reviewer described it as ‘a most masterly and forcible painting, uncompromisingly true’. The LAEs were exhibitions of work by living artists held in the city from 1871-1939. They were staged at the Walker Art Gallery from its opening in 1877.


  • Title: Old Man's Treasure (Das Katzchen)
  • Creator: Karl Gussow
  • Creator Lifespan: 1842/1907
  • Creator Nationality: German
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Pasing, Germany
  • Creator Birth Place: Havelberg, Germany
  • Date Created: 1876
  • tag / style: Karl Gussow; narrative; kitten; old man; women; shawl; basket; figures; group
  • Physical Dimensions: w908 x h1073 cm (Without frame)
  • Artwork History: Shown at the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition in 1879
  • Artist biographical information: At the Berlin Academy Gussow was considered a superb teacher whose students saw him as the ‘regenerator of Painting’. His most famous pupil was the German artist Max Klinger (1857-1920) who became celebrated (shortly after leaving Gussow’s studio in 1879) for his surreal print series of a sinisterly animated 'Glove' (first published in 1881). After Gussow left the teaching staff of the Academy in 1880 he became an especially sought after Berlin-society portrait painter. By the beginning of the 20th century, however, Gussow’s minute photographic technique and striking contrasts of tone and colour, together with his sentimental subject matter, had lost favour in Berlin. In 1907 Richard Muther condemned him for triviality in his volume the 'History of Modern Painting', but conceded the vigour and directness of some of his figure studies, including 'The Oyster Girl' (also in the Walker Art Gallery's collection). Paintings by Gussow are rarely found in British public collections. 'The Oyster Girl' was presented to the Walker because the Gallery already owned Gussow’s, 'Old Man’s Treasure' (WAG 2877), which made Gussow’s name when he showed it at the Akademische Kunstausstelung in Berlin in 1876.
  • Additional artwork information: To learn more about the Walker Art Gallery's 19th-century collections, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/19c/index2.aspx
  • Type: Oil on panel
  • Rights: Purchased from the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition in 1879

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