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Drawing - The Woodcutter Chopping Down The Tree
  • The Woodcutter Chopping Down The Tree
    Brandt, Rolf, born 1906 - died 1986
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The Woodcutter Chopping Down The Tree

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1945 (made)
    1945 (published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Brandt, Rolf, born 1906 - died 1986 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gouache on paper, on card support

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the artist's children

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level H, case WD, shelf 215, box C

Although he trained as an actor, Rolf Brandt enjoyed drawing and making collages. In his native Germany he developed an interest in Dada and Surrealism and in Bauhaus artists such as Paul Klee. He moved to London from Hamburg in the early 1930s with his brother Bill (1904–83), who became famous as a photographer.

This is one of nine illustrations that Brandt made for the children’s book The Story of a Tree by Stephen McFarlane. Charting the passage of a tree from forest to sawmill to carpenter’s workshop to toyshop, the images are a charming example of illustration for children at the end of the Second World War. Brandt’s interest in Surrealism is evident in some of the illustrations, especially the cover page, where the trees take on the forms of furniture and toys.

Physical description

Gouache painting on thick paper pasted to brown cardboard support which has residual glue marks etc on back. Image is a pine tree being chopped down by a muscular, shirtless man in tiny hat, blue breeches and black boots. The animals and birds seen in previous illustration, flying off, the nesting birds with their nest of chicks between their beaks. The sky painted dark blue shading through to pale blue. Thin paper cover-sheet attached by sellotape to back.

Place of Origin

London (made)


ca. 1945 (made)
1945 (published)


Brandt, Rolf, born 1906 - died 1986 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Gouache on paper, on card support

Marks and inscriptions

'The Story Of A Tree / No 3 / R.A.Brandt.'
In purple crayon below this the address: 39 Belsize Pk Gdns NW3. In pencil just below the address: The story of a tree 2.3
On the back inscribed in black ink


Height: 36.7 cm, Width: 43.2 cm

Descriptive line

Gouache drawing: illustration no 3 from a set of 9 for 'The Story of A Tree' by Stephen McFarlane

Production Note

This is the design for the third illustration for the children's book 'The Story Of A Tree' by Stephen McFarlane.(The first is for the cover). The eight other designs for illustrations are also in the collection. At the time of acquisition the designs were in a wrapper labelled with the titles of the nine drawings. It was not clear if these had been assigned by artist, publisher or artist's family.


Paper; Card; Gouache



Subjects depicted

Woodcutters; Animals; Trees


Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys; Drawings; Illustration; Paintings; Woodwork

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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