Measuring 2ft x 20in (60 x 50cm), the motif Christ in the Temple is the largest on offer at by Wendl in Rudolstadt in its summer sale on June 23-25.
The scene in which the 12-year-old Christ is surrounded by numerous elders in temple at Jerusalem is sometimes also known as the Dispute in The Temple or Christ among the Doctors. It is based on the work by Heinrich Ferdinand Hofmann, who painted the first of many religious motifs in 1854, after the death of his mother. Over the years, numerous other idealised scenes from the life of Jesus followed, among them Christ in the Temple from the 1880s.
Hoffmann’s works were internationally popular; the monthly periodical The Sunday Strand, published from 1900 onwards, described him as the most influential contemporary German painter.
He created altarpieces for churches in Germany and other parts of Europe. In 1925, the philanthropist John D Rockefeller Jr purchased land in New York, where the Riverside Church was built. After its completion, he acquired four works by Hoffmann for the church interior, an indication of the artist’s fame.
One of these was a copy of Christ in the Temple, which was executed in Hoffmann’s studio under the artist’s supervision. The original belongs to the Galerie Neue Meister, part of the State Art Collections in Dresden.
It served as the inspiration for the KPM Berlin porcelain version, which is known in various sizes, but none larger than the one now being sold in Thuringia with a starting price of €3600.