Old willows on the edge of the village

Hugo Richter-Lefensdorf (1854-1904)1895

Ahrenshoop Art Museum

Ahrenshoop Art Museum
Ostseebad Ahrenshoop, Germany

Like Anna Gerresheim, Hugo Richter-Lefensdorf was equally gifted as a landscape painter and portraitist, but artistically he had a different temperament. Hailing from near Waren, he had studied first with Christian Wilsberg, then with Eugen Bracht at the Berlin Art Academy. It is worth mentioning his collaboration on a large history painting commissioned by Eugen Bracht for the city of Philadelphia in 1885. Bracht must have recognised his student's potential at this time and given him special encouragement. Richter-Lefensdorf came to Ahrenshoop around 1890, and during the decade and a half he spent there he developed an extraordinarily sensitive, symbolic interpretation of nature. This sometimes resulted in a sparkling firework of colours. Although Richter-Lefensdorf also painted cheerful views of summery Ahrenshoop, the pictures that reveal the tragic side of his temperament are more revealing. He wrote his motifs on the canvas with nervous brushstrokes and a disturbing, suggestive urgency. Painted shortly before the turn of the century, Old Pastures on the Edge of the Village seems like a memento mori. Despite the expressive colouring, the emphasis is on the dying nature, embodied by a willow tree bent in on itself. The compositional drama, heightened by excitingly contrasting forms, does not allow the eye any rest, but forces it to follow the painter's destructive imagination. Stylistically, a painting like this is close to open-air painting, but it no longer has anything to do with the undramatic "paysage intime". Instead, it shows the painter's receptivity to the melancholy landscape conception of Northern European Symbolism that was emerging at the time.


  • Title: Old willows on the edge of the village
  • Creator: Hugo Richter-Lefensdorf (1854-1904)
  • Date Created: 1895
  • Physical Dimensions: 70 x 91 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Municipality of Ahrenshoop, all rights reserved
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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