Oswald Achenbach - Landscape in the Campagna with a Gathering Storm (Villa Gordiani at the Via Prenestina near Rome)
Landscape in the Campagna with a Gathering Storm (Villa Gordiani at the Via Prenestina near Rome)
Oil on canvas (relined). 72 x 89 cm.
Signed lower right: Osw. Achenbach.
Oswald Achenbach shaped the German view of Italy more than any other artist of his era. The Düsseldorf artist's Italian vedutas overshadow every other motif of his œuvre. His fascination with the country was rooted in a long tradition in Germany, beginning at the latest with Goethe. Achenbach's depictions of Italian landscapes and architecture were so popular among the upcoming middle classes of the German Empire during the so-called “Gründerzeit” that no other painter could compete with him. He never truly adhered actual topography of a specific area, preferring instead to combine motifs from his extensive repertoire to form fanciful compositions inspired by but never rooted in reality. This technique together with his masterful use of light and enchanting colour palette combined to create idealised southern landscapes that exerted a strong and lasting influence on his German patrons' vision of Italy.
The landscape of the Campagna beneath storm clouds is a frequently occurring motif in Oswald Achenbach's œuvre, but the imposing cloud formation in this work is rare in its impressive scale, occupying almost two thirds of the composition. The sunlight illuminating the hazy edges of the white and stormy clouds enhances their three-dimensional quality. The comforting warmth suggested by the fluffy, sunlit clouds clashes with the dark grey of the approaching storm. The peasant family running diagonally into the landscape from the left will have to hurry to be home before the rain begins.
Private collection, Rhineland.