Inscribed 'M. Bauer' b.l
Watercolour and gouache on off-white paper, 27 1/8 x 20 1/2 (69 x 52)
Presented by Sir Michael Sadler in memory of Lady Sadler through the NACF 1931
Prov: With van Wisselingh, Amsterdam (purchased from the artist 1897); J.H. van Eeghen, Amsterdam; with van Wisselingh, Amsterdam, 1907; Sir Michael Sadler, Oxford, 1909
Lit: Michael Sadleir, Michael Ernest Sadler (London 1949), pp.207-9, 222
Though known at one time as 'Amiens Cathedral', this represents the west front of the Cathedral at Strasbourg. A rather similar drawing in charcoal of the lower part of the façade is in the Mesdag Museum, The Hague. This was in the collection of H.W. Mesdag by 1891 as it was lent by him to the exhibition of the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij in The Hague in that year. Miss E. van Schendel of the Mesdag Museum writes (11 January 1974) that Bauer often went to the North of France, or passed through it on his way to Constantinople or Africa. His etching of the west front of Amiens Cathedral (M.A.J. Bauer: Zijn Etswerk, No.211) is said to have been made in 1890. However the first note of a journey to the North of France that she could trace is a presscutting in the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie of 6 December 1891, which mentions that the journey had just taken place and that drawings were made there. There is a sketchbook of the journey of 1891 in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Printroom), No.49:640, with studies of the Cathedral of Strasbourg. She thinks that the charcoal drawing was probably made after his return, and the same would no doubt apply to this watercolour.
Miss L.C.J. Frerichs states (in a letter of 10 April 1975) that there is a slight relationship between the Tate's watercolour and the sketch on p.3 of the small sketchbook in the Rijksmuseum. 'The artist must have been seated on the left side-walk at about 30 yards from the Church's main entrance, almost underneath the roof of the last house as only the left wing of the descending roof is visible with part of a window in the upper floor. Of the opposite house only three superimposed windows are visible with part of the roofline which rises steeply for a lucarne.' On p.49 is a drawing, done possibly from memory, of the lower left part of the cathedral front, and on p.51 is a detailed view of the front porch with the rose window, but with different proportions from the watercolour and from those on p.3.
The Rijksbureau also has a photograph of a free sketch in watercolour (van Wisselingh negative No.3809) which shows less of the façade and gives more prominence to the old buildings in the foreground. A drawing of Strasbourg Cathedral was lent by J.B. Hiltermann of Amsterdam to Bauer's exhibition at 'Arti et Amicitiae', Amsterdam, in March 1902 (26), but it is not clear which one this was. (The drawing owned by Mesdag was also in the exhibition, no.49).
Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.36, reproduced p.36