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