The painting Landscape with the Prophet Balaam and his donkey (ca. 1832) by the artist Joseph Anton Koch (1768–1839) is returning to the Städel Museum. The work from the museum’s collection was considered lost in 1945 and was recently rediscovered in a private collection. Thanks to the generous gesture of returning the work from private ownership, it is now once again on view in the Städel. For its presentation within the collection of nineteenth century art, the painting was carefully restored and newly framed by the museum. It is thus once again part of the Städel’s extensive collection of works by Joseph Anton Koch. A total of three paintings, thirteen drawings and forty-nine prints provide profound insight into the oeuvre of the artist, whose impact on German art in the nineteenth century cannot be overestimated.
“We are indebted to the former owner for the extraordinary gesture and generosity in returning the painting to the Städel Museum. Since the founding of the Städel in 1815, this work has been one of the early, impressive acquisitions of contemporary art. With the return of the work, it will once again be possible to show the full spectrum of Joseph Anton Koch’s oeuvre in the museum”, says Philipp Demandt, Director of the Städel Museum.
“Joseph Anton Koch was one of the outstanding landscape painters of the early nineteenth century. His paintings are characterised by clear contours, bright colours and a strict pictorial structure based on the rules of classical composition. With his style of painting and above all his biblical motifs, Koch exerted a lasting influence on German artists in Rome, especially on the members of the Catholic Brotherhood of St. Luke, who are known worldwide to this day as the Nazarenes”, explains Alexander Eiling, Head of Modern Art at the Städel Museum.