ACHENBACH, Oswald - b. 1827 Düsseldorf, d. 1905 Düsseldorf - WGA


(b. 1827 Düsseldorf, d. 1905 Düsseldorf)

German painter. He studied at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, as did his elder brother, the painter Andreas Achenbach (1815-1910), who was the main influence on him other than his teacher, Johann Wilhelm Schirmer (1807-1863). At a very early stage he began to prepare studies for landscapes in the area around Düsseldorf, sketching boulders, rocks, bushes, trees and people. From 1843 he went on many study tours, visiting Bavaria in 1843 and northern Italy and Switzerland in 1845. The Bavarian and Italian Alps stimulated him to create a unified approach to landscape painting.

In such early works as Landscape (1846; Düsseldorf, Kunstmuseum) his receptiveness to atmospheric values can be seen, even if the precise detail and clear articulation into foreground, middle ground and background still clearly show his debt to Schirmer.

Achenbach is considered as a representative of the Düsseldorf school who is distinguished for his colourful renderings of the Bay of Naples, of Rome, and of Venice. He broke away from the traditional classicist interpretation of these scenes and revelled in strong and glowing colour effects.

From 1863 to 1872 he was Professor of Landscape Painting at the Düsseldorf Academy.

Fireworks in Naples
Fireworks in Naples by

Fireworks in Naples

Achenbach’s favourite theme was the striking states of nature: a moonlit night, thunderclouds, fog, and so on. In the present work, his effective approach doubles the real-life event in pursuit of the same goal: a powerful visual impression.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 18 minutes):

Handel: Fireworks Music