Curator Rolf Johannsen places a focus on the development of the oil sketch from the early nineteenth century through to the start of the twentieth century. Prior to this, sketches and studies had served a specific function. They were preparatory studies for larger paintings and could underpin the contract between painter and patron. In the nineteenth century, however, they attained a new autonomy. Artists used them to capture everyday, allegedly ordinary situations or the rapidly changing moods of weather and light. The exhibition thus takes three themes as its focus: clouds ¬– landscape – figures.

Oil sketches and studies are characterized by swift, fleeting brushwork on a small format – the merely “hinted at”, the private and intimate. Although generally not intended for exhibitions and sales, like autographs, sketches and studies soon found collectors and connoisseurs who wanted to secure the authentic immediacy of the artist’s hand. In this show, the Belvedere invites visitors to discover this rarely displayed art form.

The exhibition is composed entirely from the Belvedere’s collection and includes works by Caspar David Friedrich, Adalbert Stifter, Friedrich Gauermann, August von Pettenkofen, Wilhelm Busch, Hans von Marées, Anton Romako, Theodor von Hörmann, Hans Makart, Emil Jakob Schindler, Olga Wisinger-Florian, Tina Blau, Carl Moll, and Koloman Moser.