Cultured Wednesday: Andreas Achenbach

Andreas Achenbach was probably the most influential German landscape painter of the Romantic period.

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Andreas Achenbach, born September 29th, 1815, was a German landscape painter of the Romantic period.  Born in Kassel, he was arguably the most prominent member of the  Düsseldorfer Malerschule (Düsseldorf school of painting).  He preferred marine art, while his younger brother Oswald Achenbach, also a renowned painter in his time (but today largely forgotten), preferred landscapes over seascapes.  During their lifetime, the brothers were called “das A und O der Landschaftsmalerei” (the Alpha and the Omega of landscape painting).

Andreas_Achenbach-Ein_Seesturm_an_der_norwegischen_Küste
Ein Seesturm an der norwegischen Küste, 1837

Young Andreas is said to have known everything about drawing at the early age of 6, according to his first teacher.  By the age of 12, or so the story goes, he began studying at the  Königlich-Preußische Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where said Düsseldorfer Malerschule originated.  At age 16, he had his first big success when his paintings were not only part of a renowned exhibition, but when he also sold his first painting.  It showed – guess what?  Not a seascape, but the old academy in Düsseldorf, a simple building that at the time would have been considered unworthy as a motive.  Here the painting:

Andreas_Achenbach_-_The_Academy_Courtyard_(The_Old_Academy_in_Düsseldorf
Die alte Akademie in Düsseldorf, 1831

In 1836, his fame was cemented when Prince Frederick of Prussia bought one of the seascapes he painted after a longer visit to the Netherlands and Riga, “Big Marina with Lighthouse”.

Große Marine mit Leuchtturm
Große Marine mit Leuchtturm, 1836

Later on he traveled a lot, to Scandinavia among other places, where he was quite inspired by the wild coast, as you can see in the first painting of this post, as well as further south to Italy, as the next beautiful painting shows.  Incidentally, his brother Oswald also loved to travel and was known for his Italian landscapes in particular.

Aufräumen Küste von Sizilien 1847
Aufräumen – Küste von Sizilien, 1847

Andreas Achenbach’s technique was said to be flawless, and hence he influenced a lot of painters although he taught only few.  When he died on April 1st, 1910 in Düsseldorf, the city experienced what amounted to a state funeral.  Here is another one of his seascapes, this time in calmer weather.

Küstenlandschaft mit Stadtansicht, 1875
Küstenlandschaft mit Stadtansicht, 1875

And finally, my favorite of his paintings: A watermill in Westphalia, painted in 1863.

Westfälische Wassermühle, 1863
Westfälische Wassermühle, 1863

2 comments on “Cultured Wednesday: Andreas Achenbach”

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