Gerson Digital : Germany II


2.1 Cologne and Düsseldorf

The art in the Rhineland offers our study very little reason to stay here for long. So near to the French sphere of influence, it follows the trends of the neighboring country in the great century of French art. As we traced the artistic aspirations at the court in Düsseldorf until the death of Elector Johann Wilhelm in 1716 [1], there remains little for us to do but to call attention to some latecomers in Cologne and Düsseldorf.

The ostentatious and enterprising Clemens August, Elector and Archbishop of Cologne (1700-1761) [2], played an important role as a patron of architecture in his vast territory.1 As a collector he was less distinctive than the older Lothar Francis of Schönborn (1655-1729), who founded the gallery at Pommersfelden. The artists he employed were mainly Frenchmen, Italians or French schooled Germans. Painters played no big role anyway at his court. According to Houbraken, Bartholomeus Douven (1691-after 1726) is supposed to have worked for Clemens August.2

The flower painter Johann Martin Metz (1717-1789/1790) provided some overdoor paintings for Castle Brühl [3-4],3 which show us that he took the Flemish masters and the decorative Dutch still-life of painters like Jan Davidsz de Heem as an example [5]. His daughter, the flower painter Gertrud Metz (1746-1793), trained herself in the Düsseldorf Gallery by studying the beautiful pieces of her revered predecessor Rachel Ruysch [6]. Father and daughter both spent some time later on in London, where their meticulously painted Dutch works were very much sought after.

Adriaen van der Werff
The honouring of the arts with the portraits of Johann Wilhelm of the Palatine (1658-1716), Anna Maria Luisa de' Medici (1667-1743) and Adriaen van der Werff (1659-1722), dated 1716
panel, oil paint 81,3 x 57,3 cm
center : Adrianus van der Werff
Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv./ 260

Jan Frans van Douven
Portrait of Clemens August of Bavaria, archbischop of Cologne (1671-1723), dated 1723
canvas, oil paint 156 x 128 cm
: J.F. Douven Pinxit Aº 1723
Kassel (Hessen), Museum Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, inv./ GK322

attributed to Johann Martin Metz
South American plants and fruits, c. 1740-1760
unknown, oil paint ? x ? cm
Brühl (Cologne), Schloss Augustusburg

attributed to Johann Martin Metz
South American plants and fruits, c. 1740-1760
unknown, oil paint ? x ? cm
Brühl (Cologne), Schloss Augustusburg

Johann Martin Metz
Still life with a lobster, parrots, fruit and ornamental tableware, dated 1761
canvas, oil paint 123,4 x 126,5 cm
lower right : J M Metz . p. 1761
Christie's (Amsterdam) 2007-05-09, nr. 134

Gertrud Metz
Still life with flowers and fruit
canvas, oil paint 76 x 62 cm
left : Maria Gerdr..Metz F.
Dorotheum (Vienna) 2015-04-21, nr. 272

Caspar Arnold Grein (1746-1835), another pupil of Johann Martin Metz, excelled through his old master’s technique in flower painting, in which he wanted to compete with Jan van Huijsum [7-8]. Catharina Treu (1743-1811) from Bamberg was called to Düsseldorf as a professor of flower and insect painting because of her great achievements in this field. Her still-lifes even transcend the decorative and try to emulate the great Willem Kalf [9-10].4

Caspar Arnold Grein
Fruit still life under a tree, dated 1804
panel (oak), oil paint 76 x 58 cm
lower right : C. A. Grein. / à Cologne 1804
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, inv./ 1329

Caspar Arnold Grein
Garden vase with flowers and fruit on a balustrade, dated 1826
canvas, oil paint 91,5 x 71 cm
lower center : Casp. Ar. Grein Coloniensis Aggrippinensis Pin 1826
Carola van Ham (Keulen) 1995-06-21 - 1995-06-24, nr. 1178

Catharina Treu
Still life with a 'roemer' and a flute glass on a stone ledge, dated 1769
canvas, oil paint 61 x 52 cm
upper left : catharina treii pinxit: 1.769.
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, inv./ 4905

Catharina Treu
Still life with glass goblet and grapes on a marble table, dated 1768
canvas, oil paint 61 x 52 cm
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, inv./ 4906

The decorative Dutch fine painting from the Düsseldorf Gallery bore fruit! It is hardly surprising that a pupil of Gallery director Lambert Krahe, Jan Frederik Schierecke (c. 1752-1801) copied the paintings in the Gallery [11]. It didn’t make him into a well-known artist though. Johann Gerhard Huck (c. 1759-1811), who was also a pupil of the Academy, gained more renown as a mezzotint artist [12]. Willem Joseph Laquy (1738-1798) from Brühl painted as a one-off a masterpiece in the slick manner of Frans van Mieris I, whose paintings he will have seen in Düsseldorf [13-14].5

Jan Frederik Schiereke after Adriaen van der Werff
Children playing in front of a statue of Hercules, dated 1789
paper, aquarel paint (watercolor) 453 x 348 mm
lower left : Adr. van der Werff / Chevalier pinxit / 1716. / J. F. Schierecke. Del: / 1789"
Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina, inv./ 10994

Johann Gerhard Huck after Hendrick Bloemaert
The school of Plato, dated 1795
paper, mezzotint 505 x 561 mm
London (England), British Museum, inv./ 1877,0609.1541

Willem Joseph Laquy after Jan Steen
The doctor's visit
paper, graphite, pen in brown ink, brush in color, gouache (material/technique) 392 x 333 mm
lower left : Laquy del:
Amsterdam, Amsterdam Museum, inv./ A 10665

Willem Joseph Laquy
A young woman in a window, scraping a carrot, dated 1775
panel, oil paint 46 x 35 cm
lower left : Laqui pinx. 1775
J.M. Heberle (Keulen) 1893-06-05 - 1893-06-06, nr. 71

The Dutch direction in landscape painting is represented by Bernard Gottfried Manskirch (1736-1817). Suffice it to say, that he didn’t take Jan van Goyen but Herman Saftleven, Jan Griffier and Jan Both as his role models [15-18].

Bernard Gottfried Manskirch
Wooded landscape with resting shepherd near a farm
canvas, oil paint 32,5 x 43 cm
Dorotheum (Vienna) 2007-04-24, nr. 217

Bernard Gottfried Manskirch
Wooded landscape with travelers near a river crossing
canvas, oil paint 32,5 x 43 cm
Dorotheum (Vienna) 2007-04-24, nr. 217 (b)

Bernard Gottfried Manskirch
Wooded landscape with a view of an extensive valley
panel (oak), oil paint 28 x 39 cm
lower right : G. Manskirch
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, inv./ 1315

Bernard Gottfried Manskirch
Wooded landscape with peasants on a road along a river
panel (oak), oil paint 28 x 39 cm
lower left : G. Manskirch Pinx.
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, inv./ 1314

His son Frans Joseph Manskirch (1768-1827) has been taught by his father in the imitation of the Dutch masters and already in 1790 his night pieces were being compared with those of Aert van der Neer; he painted some pictures in the manner of Philips Wouwerman and Nicolaes Berchem [19-20]. A real experience of nature is not expressed in these Rococo vedute [21-22].6

Only in the 19th century Düsseldorf became known as ‘City of the Arts’, a name that does not have a good ring anymore among art lovers. However, we will not be able to ignore the city completely, as here, of all places, the realistic and romantic Dutch masters of the 17th century were asked for their blessing one more time.7

Franz Joseph Manskirch
Panoramic view of a landscape in the Siebengebirge ('Seven Mountains'area) in Germany
canvas, oil paint 44 x 60,5 cm
Cologne, private collection Esch

Franz Joseph Manskirch
Rocky landscape with a Scottish goat's herd playing the bagpipe
paper, aquarel paint (watercolor), brush in brown 350 x 310 mm
lower right : F. Manskirch
Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, inv./ 1489

Franz Joseph Manskirch
Peasants with a horse drawn cart fording a river
paper, aquarel paint (watercolor), pen in brown ink, oil paint 536 x 624 mm
Hammersmith and Fulham (Londen), John Bennett Fine Paintings

Franz Joseph Manskirch
Wooded landscape with a view of a deep valley with an upcoming rain storm
panel, oil paint 58 x 74 cm
lower right : F.J. Manskirch
Van Ham Kunstauktionen (Keulen) 2000-11-30 - 2000-12-02, nr. 1768


1 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Ketelsen/Von Stockhausen/Fredericksen 2002, vol. 3, p. 2323-2325.

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 3, p. 348-353.

3 [Van Leeuwen2018] The decorative paintings are only attributed to Metz and look quite different from his other known works. Maybe they are based on studies by Albert Eckhout.

4 [Gerson 1942/1983] Augsburg, nos. 2286 & 2287, dated 1768. [Van Leeuwen 2018] At some point after 1912 the paintings must have been transferred to Munich. Catharina Treu became an honorary professor at the academy in Düsseldorf in 1776, but continued to live in Mannheim (see § 3.6).

5 [Gerson 1942/1983] Auction Cologne (Lempertz) 5/6 June 1893, lot 71. [Van Leeuwen 2018] Laquy spent about 30 years in the Netherlands. It was mostly in the Netherlands where he studied the Dutch masters (the Braamcamp collection in Amsterdam, the gallery of Willem V in The Hague). The work Gerson mentions is from his Dutch period. Indeed the relief occurs in paintings by Frans van Mieris I and II as well as in those of Willem van Mieris. It is based on a marble bas-relief of 1626 by François Duquesnoy (1597–1643) in the Galleria Doria Pamphili, Rome. However, the composition is mostly based on Gerard Dou (RKDimages 250556). On Laquy’s focus on works by Dou: Korevaar 2011. However, the drawing after Jan Steen in the Amsterdam Museum probably has been created in Düsseldorf.

6 [Gerson 1942/1983] Some reproductions in Strauss-Ernst 1928. Manskirch also stayed in England.

7 [Gerson 1942/1983] See p. 346 [§ 6.4]. [Van Leeuwen 2018] The appreciation of the Düsseldorfer Malerschule, which has been revalued in the last decades, was very low in Gerson’s time. I thank Gero Seelig for his comments.

Cookies disclaimer

Our site saves small pieces of text information (cookies) on your device in order to deliver better content and for statistical purposes. You can disable the usage of cookies by changing the settings of your browser. By browsing our website without changing the browser settings you grant us permission to store that information on your device.
I agree