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Oswald Achenbach (1827-1905)

Morning 1850-54

Oil on canvas | 113.2 x 163.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 403845

Durbar Corridor, Osborne House

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  • Oswald Achenbach was born in Düsseldorf and from the age of twelve studied art at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie with his elder brother, Andreas (1815-1910), under Johann Wilhelm Schirmer (1807-1863). Throughout his long career Achenbach was a landscape painter, first working mainly in his homeland before study trips to Bavaria, northern Italy and Switzerland encouraged him to expand his repertoire. It was a journey to Rome and its surroundings in 1850 with fellow Düsseldorf student Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) which was to prove most influential, resulting in works such as Morning and Evening, which focused on the Italian landscape and traditional way of life. These works herald a new interest in naturalism and the depiction of atmospheric light conditions, replacing Achenbach’s earlier more formalised compositions.

    Morning depicts peasant figures in the countryside south-east of Rome near Castel Gandolfo with views overlooking Lake Albano. The Papal palace, designed by Carlo Maderno is visible in the distance. Ariccia, another Roman hill town, is the setting for Evening (RCIN 403846), with the Church of the Assunta by Bernini depicted at the summit. Both districts were well known beauty spots, popular with visiting foreign artists including Richard Wilson (1713-1782) and Camille Corot (1796-1875).

    Given their subject matter, these paintings can be dated to some time after the artist’s first trip to Rome in 1850. At that date Oswald Achenbach was relatively unknown, having only exhibited seven paintings in Germany and none in England. He first did so at an exhibition of contemporary German painting held at the German Gallery in London in May 1854. From the exhibition Prince Albert purchased this pair and The Jungfrau (RCIN 403622) by August Becker, the brother of Ernst Becker, Librarian at Windsor and tutor to the two eldest princes. Morning and Evening were hung in the Ground Floor Corridor of the Main Wing at Osborne.

    Over the course of a successful career (he was still exhibition new paintings in 1904), Oswald Achenbach showed around two hundred pictures at all the major exhibitions around Europe and the United States, including the Paris Salon and the Berlin Kunstakademie, and won awards from the Prussian King and Napoleon III.

    Signed lower left: Osw Achenbach

    Text adapted from Victoria and Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010
    Provenance

    Purchased by Prince Albert from the German Gallery (payment dated 7 August 1854, £410 for the pair, PA Ledgers 1854/5); given to Queen Victoria, 24th December 1854; recorded at Osborne House, 1876

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas

    Measurements

    113.2 x 163.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    151.4 x 200.8 x 13.8 cm (frame, external)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Landscape near Albano