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    Description

    Oswald Achenbach (German, 1827-1905)
    View from high in the gardens of Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Rome, 1881
    Oil on canvas
    50 x 36 inches (127 x 91.4 cm)
    Signed and dated lower middle left: Osw. Achenbach 1881

    PROVENANCE:
    Private collection, Venice, Florida.

    The author of these intensely romantic Italian landscapes, Oswald Achenbach, was one of the most important landscape painters of the Düsseldorf school. As a prodigious young artist, following his studies at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, he had already demonstrated a passion for landscape painting, and devoted himself to producing meticulous sketches of boulders, rocks, trees, plants and people in the region around Düsseldorf. By 1843 he began traveling further afield in search of subjects, making many sketching tours to Bavaria, northern Italy and Switzerland. His early paintings of the Bavarian and Italian Alps helped him move beyond the academicism of his training, which tended to focus on motifs in isolation and sacrifice (or indeed entirely ignore) the skills necessary for combining them into a compositional unity. Working with views of the distant mountains, Achenbach composed with discrete fore-, middle- and background zones.

    In 1850, Achenbach, as well as his art, underwent a seismic shift when he traveled to Rome and the Campagna for the first time, and found the landscape of southern Italy, which would become the focus of his artistic production for the rest of his life. Over the course of the following decade, the severity of his draftsmanship, his rather hard forms, and the ochre-brown palette characteristic of his Düsseldorf training, fell away and were replaced by a new focus on atmosphere, light and color. He discovered that the best way of conveying the sensation of a plein-air landscape was by blending one area of the composition into the next to create an atmospheric haze of color. In the present pair of paintings, for example, Achenbach used this blending device to wonderful advantage--particularly in the scene featuring the cluster of figures with parasols. Just above them, to the right of the proud stand of poplars, an iridescent haze envelops a spot of trees that seem to descend into a hollow. Together with this effect, Achenbach also varied the way he applied his paint, often using his fingers and a palette knife to distribute color and vary texture.

    During the 1870s, Achenbach's interest extended beyond Rome and the Campagna to the area around Naples, Sorrento and Capri. This coincided with a growing interest in painting architectural views, often in combination with natural landscape elements. Achenbach clearly found a perfect combination of these two interests in the stunning terraced gardens and fountains of the Villa Torlonia, which is the site of the present pair of works Achenbach painted in 1881. The gardens of the Villa Torlonia were embellished during the early 17th-century by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V, to include a waterworks to feed the many fountains-notably the spectacular water theater with a cascade spilling down a flight of steps which was designed by Girolamo Fontana, Flaminio Ponzio and Carlo Maderno. At the cascade's base is a large retaining wall with niches and fountains, which appears across the background zone in one of the present works.

    In 1907, the American expatriate artist John Singer Sargent ventured into the gardens of the Villa Torlonia as Achenbach had a generation earlier, to record many of the same towering poplars and rosy balustrades, but in watercolor instead of oil.


    Condition Report*: Original canvas slightly slack on the stretchers. Painting has been more recently cleaned in the area of the sky than in the landscape which exhibits an older varnish. A tiny loss was infilled and patched on verso in right upper quadrant in sky. It is only visible under UV light. Small spots of inpaint or strengthening fluoresce under UV examination in the vegetation, mostly on the left. Largely without restoration. Framed Dimensions 56.25 X 4 X 44 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2018
    8th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,487

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