As inscribed, Kiefer pretends the rose pictured here in delicate watercolor was a gift for his then wife, Julia, from Oscar Wilde ("von Oskar Wilde / für Julia"). Kiefer thus links his romantic floral subject to the great writer's witty and bittersweet fairy tales-particularly The Nightingale and the Rose (1888). In Wilde's story, the songbird impales itself on the thorn of a rosebush so that its song and blood will infuse the plant and give birth to a red flower. The rose produced by the nightingale's sacrifice is then plucked by a feckless student of philosophy to give to his unrequited love. In turn she rejects his offer, choosing instead the jewels proffered by another suitor, and the scholar turns back to the only kind of knowledge he comprehends-philosophy.
Inscription: Inscribed (center left in gouache): von Oskar Wilde/für Julia
private collection (1974–83; sold in 1983 to d'Offay); [Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, 1983–95; sold in 1995 to Polsky]; Cynthia Hazen Polsky, New York (1995–2000; on extended loan to MMA 1995–2000; her gift to MMA)
London. Anthony d'Offay Gallery. "Anselm Kiefer: Watercolours, 1970–1982," May 24–July 9, 1983, no. 8 (as "Von Oskar Wilde für Julia [From Oscar Wilde for Julia]").
Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. "Anselm Kiefer," March 24–May 5, 1984, no. 86 (as "From Oscar Wilde for Julia").
ARC/Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Anselm Kiefer," May 11–June 21, 1984, no. 86.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. "Anselm Kiefer," July 31–September 30, 1984, no. 86.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: 1993–1995," July 28–September 24, 1995, no catalogue (promised gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Anselm Kiefer: Works on Paper in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 15, 1998–March 21, 1999, no. 10.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Broken Flowers and Grass: Nature and Landscape in the Drawings of Anselm Kiefer," March 24–August 2, 2009, no catalogue.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Anselm Kiefer," September 27–December 14, 2014, no. 17.
Anne Seymour. Anselm Kiefer: Watercolours 1970–1982. Exh. cat., Anthony d'Offay Gallery. London, 1983, unpaginated, no. 8, ill. (color).
Nan Rosenthal in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1994–1995." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 53 (Autumn 1995), pp. 68–69, ill. (color).
Nan Rosenthal. Anselm Kiefer: Works on Paper in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 30, 34, no. 10, ill. p. 35 (color).