57. Carl Blechen

Cottbus 1798 – 1840 Berlin

View of the Baltic Coast, 1834(?)

Carl Blechen is considered the most important German painter of landscape oil sketches of the early nineteenth century. After modest beginnings working in a bank, Blechen joined the Academy in Berlin in 1822. In the summer of 1823, he went on a study trip to Dresden, where his encounters with Johan Christian Dahl and Caspar David Friedrich had a formative influence on his work. In particular, Dahl’s Italian oil sketches left a lasting impression, and prompted Blechen to paint plein air studies. His long-awaited journey to Italy took place in 1828-29. He was appointed professor of landscape painting at the Academy in Berlin in 1831, though he was forced to resign in the late 1830s due to bouts of severe depression from which he never recovered. This small oil on panel is a recent discovery and was probably executed during the artist’s journey to the Baltic coast in 1834, from which only drawings were known. It is a careful, luminous depiction of a rather unremarkable motif. Delicate tufts of grass and a cluster of young trees are flanked by sand to the left and a watery marsh to the right, with the open sea indicated by a thin azure line on the horizon.