Ruins 5


A charcoal drawing of a war ruin, made by Svend Keller, dated November 20th, 1946. Under the date, one can read “Mittag, Himmel bedeckt” (noon, sky clouded). This is probably the same building that is visible in the middle of the watercolor shown in the Ruins article on this blog. When that watercolor was painted, some parts of the building obviously had been broken down, probably because they where unstable, and some rubble had been cleared away.

The watercolor had been painted looking out of an attic window of the house in which Svend Keller and his parents, Rolf and Grete Keller, where living at the time. This drawing might have been made looking out of their appartments window. Unlike many surrounding houses, that house had survived the war.

Tropical Plants – Stephanotis Floribunda


One of Rolf Keller’s hobbies was tropical plants. Today it is not difficult to get such plants but in the GDR, it was not easy. He had removed one wall in his appartment and replaced it with a glass cabinett, containing different tropical plants. In several letters, he described how he built this little greenhouse inside his appartment. One of the plants inside it is sketched here, Stephanotis Floribunda, a native of Madagascar. The pencil sketch is dated July 7th, 1959. The caption reads: “Die erste ist soeben duftend erblüht, am Vorabend unserer Wolgareise.” (The first one just opened up with a sweet scent, on the eve of our Wolga trip). The next day, Rolf and Grete Keller would start a trip to Russia, described in a series of letters.

Mathilde Pajeken – Small Sketch Book 3

kleines Skizzenbuch 14.jpg

Another pencil sketch from Mathilde Pajeken’s small (8.2 by 11.8 cm) travel sketch book. This little book contains sketches – probably from a single trip – mostly of maritime motives. A few places on the trip can be identified as either on the Weser river (somewhere between the city of Bremen and the North Sea) and the island of Helgoland. This sketch might have been taken somewhere in the north sea. The sketches in this book where probably made around the year 1900.

Ships like the ones shown here where used for coastal fright transport during the 19th and even into the early 20th centuries. When this sketch was made, these ships where, for the most part, probably still not motorized, although some steamers where around already, as can be seen in the background. By the shape, I would guess that the steam ship to be seen in the background is a tug boat.

Rocks in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains 4


A watercolor showing the “Schrammsteinmassiv”, a famous group or rocks in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, made by Svend Keller on June 7th, 1949. The Elbe Sandstone Mountains were one of Svend Keller’s favorite landscapes and there are several depictions of motives from this area made in different techniques (see

Playing the Piano III



Two sketches from one of Rolf Keller’s sketch book, showing two undidentified pianists. I don’t know if this sketch originated during a concert (perhaps a musical competition, since the sketches seem to show two different people) or during a more private setting. It might have been on a trip to the Sovjet Union as well. Unfortunately, these sketches are not dated and I don’t know when and where they where made. I wonder if it might be possible to identify these pianists. Doing so would yield a clue to when and perhaps these sketches where made.

Rudolf Hünlich – Tree Studies I


A watercolor study from Rudolf Hünlich’s sketch book, one of several tree and forest studies. Rudolf Hünlich was an uncle of my grandfather Rolf Keller (a brother of his mother). He was a professional graphics artist working as a xylographer. He was only 24 years old when he died of a lung disease. I don’t have the exact dates of his life. I guess the sketch book is from the 1870s or 1880s, but I don’t know exactly. Here is another drawing from that sketch book.