Caspar David Friedrich sketchbook

A sketchbook belonging to the German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, sold for €1.45m (£1.26m) at Grisebach.

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It is thought that the artist created 20 such sketchbooks during his career but, of these, only six have survived.

Four are in the National Museum in Oslo, one is in the prints collection in Dresden, with this, the Karlsruhe Sketchbook, the only one in private hands and the first to ever come on the market.

Dating from 1804 and numbering 20 sheets of vellum, it includes 33 pages of pencil sketches, some with sepia wash, some signed and dated. Some of the drawings have been identified as preparatory works for later oil paintings.

It takes its name from the south-western city of Karlsruhe where it had resided since the artist gave it to his close friend and fellow painter Georg Friedrich Kersting. For over two centuries, it had been in pos s e s sion of hi s descendants.

Its cultural importance was ref lected in the decision of the Berlin authorit ies to begin proceedings to declare the sketchbook an ‘item of national interest’ prior to the sale.

It can take up to six months before the commission makes its final decision but, until then, the book cannot be exported.

Bidding battle

One cannot say whether this situation deterred potential bidders from overseas.

Come auction day on November 30, the bidding went rapidly over the starting price of €900,000 and, after a further exchange of bids, it was knocked down to the anonymous buyer at €1.45m (£1.26m), just shy of the upper guide.