19th-Century European Paintings & Works of Art, Featuring An Independent Eye: Property from Jack Kilgore & Co. (Lots 11-47)

19th-Century European Paintings & Works of Art, Featuring An Independent Eye: Property from Jack Kilgore & Co. (Lots 11-47)

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 4. The Dream.

Heinrich Maria Seck-Carton

The Dream

Auction Closed

May 22, 09:00 PM GMT


8,000 - 12,000 USD

Lot Details


Heinrich Maria Seck-Carton

German 1888 - 1972

The Dream

signed and dated lower center H. SECK-CARTON 1920

oil on canvas

canvas: 48 by 62 in.; 212 by 161 cm

framed: 51 ¼ by 66 ½ in.; 130.1 by 168.9 cm

Sale: Grisebach, Berlin, 29 May 2019, lot 222

Where acquired by the present owner

The Mainz painter Heinrich Maria Seck-Carton began his artistic training in graphic arts at the Mainz School of Applied Arts in 1908.  He went on to develop a unique self-taught style, merging elements of Art Nouveau and Romanticism. In his early career he experimented with landscape paintings, venturing out of Mainz to visit Wiesbaden and Darmstadt for inspiration. Seck-Carton enlisted in the army in 1916 and returned home from the war two years later. Back in Mainz he was able to make a living as an artist, enrolling in artist groups including the National Association of Visual Artists of Germany and the Frankfurt Artists’ Society (FKG). Both organizations dedicated their resources to finding work for German artists after WWI, focusing on the procurement of funding and public projects for its members. Seck-Carton was granted several commissions to paint frescoes in the churches around Mainz.

Seck-Carton maintained an interest in the romantic landscape throughout the interwar period. However, life would again take a terrible turn when World War II broke out in 1939. The multiple bombings of Mainz left numerous victims and terrible damage to its landmarks. Seck-Carton took on the destroyed city as his emotional subject matter, creating a series of cityscapes that illustrated the remains of Saint Stephen’s Church and the Mainz Cathedral. In his depictions of these horrific scenes the artist abandons any sense of Romanticism, turning to abstraction as a tool to convey destruction and desolation.

The current painting is an enigmatic and impactful largescale canvas of two kneeling figures looking out over a strange, symmetrical mountainous landscape. The dynamic, sharp rocks seem to part away from the center of the painting, where a perfectly round crater holds a pool of still, reflective water. The female figure on the right lifts her face to the fiery sun, her hands clasped at her heart, while her male counterpart buries his face in his hands, shielding himself from the bright rays. Seemingly in prayer, the two figures may be worshiping the Sacred Heart, made manifest by the heart depicted at the center of the sun. This ethereal emblem may have a more tangible connection to the Neo-Gothic Church of the Sacred Heart, built in Mainz beginning in 1911 and completed in 1913.

This painting evokes a feeling of mysticism in addition to a possible religious reading. The heart inside the sun encircled by a number of layers functions as a primordial motif. The horizontal lines that separate the foreground from the mountainous landscape and the sky relate to the geometrically abstracted aquamarine paintings of Lake Geneva that Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) created towards the end of his life.