Oskar Hoffmann, “Road to Reval,” circa 1890, oil on canvas, 27 x 48 inches

In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week we feature a luminous and tightly rendered 19th-century painting by little-known master Oskar Hoffmann.

A remarkable work by little-known Baltic-German painter Oskar Hoffmann (1851-1912) headlines a July 29 auction via the Los Angeles-based house Bid Network Online. To be sure, the available painting, titled “Road to Reval,” is remarkable — rendered with such precision that no detail of the casual country-themed composition has been neglected. Indeed, it seems odd that such a skillful painter has slipped into relative obscurity.

Born in 1851 in Estonia, Hoffmann is best known for his colorful and luminous depictions of Estonian peasants, such as “Road to Reval.” He began his artistic career circa 1872 when he enrolled at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, working briefly under the guidance of Eduard von Gebhardt. Graduating in 1877, Hoffmann would eventually establish his own studio in Düsseldorf and, throughout his career, would participate in international exhibitions in Vienna, Berlin, and elsewhere.

Captured within a strong horizontal format, “Road to Reval” brings together a very masterful realistic portrayal of a range of symbols, including windmills, campfires, muddy paths, paupers vs. a train of market-goers, etc., all of which were understood and close to the public. A stunning golden light from the frosty morning illuminates the scene. The light is just beginning to grace the rooftops of nearby cottages and a lone birch tree toward the left edge of the canvas. Still veiled in shadow, a group of peasants wades through the muddy street past a row of large boulders.

Auction estimates are between $34,000 and $50,000. To learn more, visit here.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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