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Key facts
Full title Tree study
Artist Jean-Michel Cels
Artist dates 1819 - 1894
Date made about 1840
Medium and support Oil on paper laid on canvas
Dimensions 23.2 x 29.8 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Kate de Rothschild, 1999
Inventory number NG6578
Location Not on display
Tree study
Jean-Michel Cels
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This small oil sketch on paper, mounted on canvas, shows a dense mass of trees in a deep ravine. At the bottom of the picture some pale pink flowering plants suggest that we are at the edge of a cliff looking across a gully that drops steeply below us. Including these flowers and the tall tree on the right increases the effect of distance between the immediate foreground and the trees on the other side of the ravine.

As a landscape painter, Jean-Michel Cels would have made small oil studies on location directly from nature either on paper, such as this one, or on a small panel. Around 20 of his oil sketches of clouds and trees are known to exist. They were all produced between 1848 and 1852, when he was his early twenties. This study was probably painted in Belgium, possibly in the area around Brussels, where he had his studio.

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