In this work, Waldmüller, a major figure of the Biedermeier era, combines originality and the meticulous treatment of the subject, a rigorous realism and an innovative desire to capture natural light. As of 1830, Waldmüller spent his summer in the Berchtesgaden region, in the Bavarian Alps. The pyramidal composition of Children on Their Way Home from School, dominated by the majestic Watzmann, shows the long road—literally and figuratively—travelled by two poor Bavarian children returning to the village. Sensitive to the problems of a society isolated from modernity, the artist bears witness to—above and beyond the initial charm of the representation—the importance of education.
This exquisite painting belonged to the industrialist Viktor Zuckerkandl, an important patron of the Secession and collector of Gustav Klimt’s work. At his death, the painting passed on to his sister, Amalie Redlich. With the Anschluss in 1938, she was deported and her goods seized. After hiding in Belgium during the war, Amalie’s grandson, Georges Jorisch, moved to Montreal in 1957. As heir, he succeeded in recuperating certain despoiled goods, including this precious work, which reminded him of his childhood. After his death, in 2012, the painting was offered to the Museum in recognition of the City of Montreal’s hospitality.