Oswald Achenbach - Coastal Landscape on the Bay of Naples
Coastal Landscape on the Bay of Naples
Oil on canvas. 140 x 195 cm.
Signed and dated lower left: Osw. Achenbach 1881.
In contrast to his brother Andreas' forceful realism, Oswald Achenbach's works exude a sense of jovial and clement idealism. In 1861/62, a journalist of the “Düsseldorfer Zeitung” wrote enthusiastically “Oswald Achenbach is the true painter of Italy”. His trips to the country led him to Naples, where, as Johann Heinrich Schmidt writes in his 1944 monograph on the artist, “his artistic destiny was decided”. The picturesque life of the city in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the openness of the bay, and the infinite blue of the ocean must have appeared to the artist like the fulfilment of an Italian dream; a vision of the country that he captured for eternity in his works.
This large and well-preserved painting opens up onto a delirious view from above over the coast of Naples. The house and vegetation on the left and the tall tree on the right frame figures wending their way along the sunlit path leading down into the valley. The foreground acts as a form of repoussoir, through which the viewer's gaze is led out into a landscape presented almost as a picture-postcard idyll, with its layered effect emphasised by the graduation from dark tones in the foreground to a pastel horizon.