Gerson Digital : Germany II


4.3 Landscape Artists in Munich

The Dutch breeding ground was reflected most fortunately in landscape painting, where Dutch art became the stepping stone to the new realism. Since the 17th century a number of Dutch-trained landscapists, like Christoph Ludwig Agricola (1665-1724), Joachim Franz Beich (1665-1748) and others, had provided a tradition in the sense of the Dutch Italianate trend.

The younger artists, of whom we are about to speak, did not look for their examples in this group. Let us ignore the very weak talent of Magnus Prasch or Brasch (1731-1787), who was trained by Peter Jacob Horemans in Munich and who made incredibly bad hunting paintings [1], and begin the line of the younger generation with Ferdinand Kobell, who, although he was active in Munich only since 1794, deserves to be mentioned first.

Ferdinand Kobell (1740-1799)1 came from Mannheim, where he visited the Academy and soon won the special privilege ‘to qualify for studying Nature in his Highness’s cabinets of paintings through the elaboration of the cabinet paintings there’.2 These ‘cabinet paintings’ were Dutch landscapes and even when it is awkwardly expressed in the chancellery phrasing of the time, one sees and hears clearly why those little Dutch paintings were considered useful. In 1768 he went to Johann Georg Wille in Paris, whose teaching was based on the same principles. As a landscapist in the service of Mannheim he painted many Dutch conceived, decorative paintings over the next years. Jan Both, Nicolaes Berchem and Jan Wijnants are essentially his examples [2-5].3 He also received commissions to make paintings ‘as a substitute for the Dutch masters’.4

Magnus Prasch
Resting huntsman in a forest landscape
canvas, oil paint 31 x 40 cm
lower right : M. BRASCH
Dorotheum (Vienna) 1993-03-09, nr. 181

Ferdinand Kobell
Mountain landscape with waterfall, dated 1779
canvas, oil paint 107 x 141,5 cm
Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, inv./ 1111

Ferdinand Kobell
Winter landscape with two horsemen, dated 1777
panel, oil paint 15 x 19,8 cm
lower right : F Kobel 1777
Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, inv./ 1111

Ferdinand Kobell
Departure of the herd, dated 1775
canvas, oil paint 106 x 97 cm
: F. Kobell 1775
Private collection

Ferdinand Kobell
Return of the herd, dated 1774
canvas, oil paint 106 x 97 cm
lower center : F: Kobell 1774
Private collection

When he came to Munich, he described the Tegernsee thus: ‘the whole area consists of some Ruisdael, some Wagner and endless Waterloo’. He recommended his son to go to Pasing, ‘where Wouwerman cottages are’.5 Although he saw nature with the eyes of the Dutch masters, he did not render it schematically; in this he is decidedly superior to the Schütz family.

His younger brother Franz Kobell is first and foremost a bold draughtsman, who didn’t seek his examples from the Dutch masters though. For our study Wilhelm von Kobell (1766-1855) is the most interesting artist.6 He too grew up with the Dutch landscape paintings in Mannheim, that would help him to find a style [6]. In those days he made many aquatint sheets after Nicolaes Berchem, Jan Both, Dirk van Bergen, Johannes Lingelbach, Willem Romeyn, Johann Heinrich Roos, Adriaen van de Velde, Philips Wouwerman [7] and others. His own pictures lie midway between Adriaen van de Velde [8],7 Johann Heinrich Roos and Willem Romeyn.

Wilhelm von Kobell
Resting travellers near a forest, dated 1791
panel, oil paint 44,5 x 36,5 cm
lower left : W. Kobell, 1791
Koller (Zürich) 2008-09-19, nr. 3066

Wilhelm von Kobell after Philips Wouwerman
Departure for a ride, dated 1792
paper, aquatint 295 x 320 mm
Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, inv./ 29438 D

Wilhelm von Kobell
A shepherdess with cows and a goat in a ford in a brook, dated 1798
canvas, oil paint 140,5 x 124 cm
lower left : Wilhelm Kobell 1798
Kassel (Hessen), Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel

That didn’t change much when he settled in Munich in 1793, where he had again several assignments for aquatint sheets after Dutch landscapes. In his own watercolours he very soon liberated himself from the Dutch example.8 In the paintings he produced after 1800 he held himself not so much to the Italianate Dutch artists, but to Paulus Potter [9-10], Jacob van Ruisdael and Allart van Everdingen.9 The first two provided him with access to simple, realistically captured nature, which can be seen in his late pictures. By that time he had lost completely the sunny and atmospheric aspect of Dutch painting, especially that of the Both-Berchem group.

His last battle scenes are of a brittle, almost dry factuality, although not altogether without atmosphere [11]. We look in vain for the painterly melee and the gunsmoke of Wouwerman’s skirmishes. That he made a significant effort to study nature, is made clear by the series of late animal etchings, which were based on meticulous drawings. Nowadays it seems odd to us, that the artist of those days had to take a detour over the Dutch masters to arrive at a simple, almost arid realistic landscape. The careers of the Kobells also demonstrate very well, that the road from Nicolaes Berchem and Jan Both, the most popular artists in the 18th century, led to Jacob van Ruisdael and Paulus Potter, before ‘Nature itself’ was reached.

Wilhelm von Kobell
Shepherd with herd in a hilly landscape, dated 1800
canvas, oil paint 98 x 118 cm
Kassel (Hessen), Neue Galerie (Kassel)

Wilhelm von Kobell
Two cows lying in a meadow, c. 1800-1808
panel, oil paint 23,5 x 23 cm
Donaueschingen, private collection Hubert Lamey

Wilhelm von Kobell
The siege of Kosel, dated 1808
canvas, oil paint 202 x 305 cm
lower right : Wilhelm Kobell 1808
Munich, Neue Pinakothek, inv./ 3822

Johann Georg von Dillis after Jan Asselijn
Shepherd with herd at a ruin, in 1792
paper, aquarel paint (watercolor), brush, pencil ? x ? mm
Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München, inv./ 32283

Johann Georg von Dillis after Meindert Hobbema
Wooded landscape with two farmhouses, dated 1837
canvas, oil paint 34,5 x 42,5 cm
on the stretcher : 1837
Private collection

Johann Georg von Dillis
Water mill at Ohlstadt, probably around 1820
canvas, oil paint 47,5 x 52,5 cm
lower left : G. v. D.
Munich, Neue Pinakothek, inv./ 14424

Carl Kuntz
Shepherd wth cattle on the Gottesauer bridge, Karlsruhe in the distance, dated 1813
panel, oil paint 50 x 69 cm
lower right : Carl Kuntz fecit / 1813
Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, inv./ GM Gm 1959

Carl Kuntz
Landscape with cattle and a shepherd, dated 1821
panel (oak), oil paint 41,5 x 51,5 cm
lower center : C. Kuntz fec. 1821
Berlin, Nationalgalerie (Berlijn), inv./ A I 802 a

Johann Georg Dillis (1759-1841) formed his style under the direction of the brothers Kobell [12-14].10 It seems to have been easier for him to abandon the Dutch scheme and to face the Bavarian mountain landscape independently.

Carl Kuntz (1770-1830) and Max Joseph Wagenbauer (1774/5-1825) began directly with Paulus Potter. Carl Kuntz from Baden never really got away from this example [15-16],11 Wagenbauer however developed a Bavarian genre picture from it, which has its own appeal [17].12 Apart from animal pieces [18-20] he created some panorama landscapes, that resembled good and strong Dutch models, such as Guillam Du Bois and Philips Koninck [21].

Max Josef Wagenbauer
View of the valley of the Isar at Ebenhausen, between 1812-1814
panel, oil paint 50,7 x 63 cm
Munich, Neue Pinakothek, inv./ 9156

Max Josef Wagenbauer
Resting herdsman with cattle, dated 1816
copper, oil paint 32,5 x 42,53 cm
lower center : M.J. Wagenbauer 1816
Sotheby's (München) 1991-12-10, nr. 18

Max Josef Wagenbauer
Cows in the meadow, dated 1826
canvas, oil paint 18,5 x 23 cm
lower right : MJ Wagenbaur / 1826
Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlijn), inv./ W.S. 250

Max Josef Wagenbauer
Landscape with a cow rubbing against a beech, c. 1820-1824
copper, oil paint 36 x 43,2 cm
Munich, Neue Pinakothek, inv./ 10890

Max Josef Wagenbauer
View of Lake Starnberg, before 1807
canvas, oil paint 73,5 x 81 cm
Munich, Neue Pinakothek, inv./ 4920

As in Mannheim, also in Munich, the Electoral collection played a certain role in the education of young artists. The above-mentioned Johann Jacob Dorner was director of the gallery for some years. He strove to put the paintings into order and hang them according to his idea of quality: at the top the never dethroned Rafael, followed by Balthasar Denner, Albrecht Dürer and Abraham Mignon! In this way it went up and down from Rubens and Van Dyck to Nicolaes Veerendael, from Nicholas Poussin to Caspar Netscher and further to Murillo. Johann Georg Dillis, who knew a bit more about the desires of the museum public, arranged the artworks according to painting schools. Johann Christian von Mannlich (17141-1822), who had a great influence on visual artists, acquired in 1803 a Paulus Potter from Kassel [22], which by the way had already been copied there by Wilhelm Tischbein,13 in exchange for a Mater Dolorosa by the then highly esteemed Jusepe Ribera [23]. With this action he brought to Munich what the young landscapists needed.14

The next generation, born in the 1780s and 1790s, hardly needed the old Dutch masters. Peter von Hess (1792-1871) and Albrecht Adam (1786-1862) belong to this generation.15 In the absence of another teacher, Von Hess seems to have formed himself after the Dutch genre painters and Albrecht Adam trained himself in copying paintings by Philips Wouwerman [24-26]. However, both artists succeeded in the transition to the real genre painting à la mode and healthy naturalism; no trace of Wouwermans can be seen in their pictures anymore [27].

Paulus Potter
Peasant family with cattle, dated 1646
panel, oil paint 37,1 x 29,5 cm
upper left : paulus potter fe. 1646.
Munich, Alte Pinakothek, inv./ 565

Jusepe de Ribera
Mater Dolorosa, 1638
canvas, oil paint 76,5 x 63,5 cm
Kassel (Hessen), Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel, inv./ GK 590

Peter von Hess after Philips Wouwerman
Winter landscape with skaters and a horse-drawn sled, dated 1842
canvas, oil paint 32 x 41,2 cm
lower left : P. Hess. / Nach / Ph. Wouwermans. / 42-
Dorotheum (Vienna) 2000-03-30, nr. 429

Albrecht Adam
A mottled horse at a ford in a river, dated 1829
panel, oil paint 34 x 46 cm
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, inv./ WAF 9

Peter von Hess
Resting Italian farmers with cattle in a landscape, dated 1831
panel, oil paint 34,5 x 44,5 cm
lower right :
Sotheby's (München) 1995-12-05, nr. 60

Peter von Hess
A farmstead plundered by Cossacks, dated 1820
panel (oak), oil paint 38,5 x 34,4 cm
lower left : PHess 1820.
Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie (Berlijn), inv./ W.S. 84


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] See for the following: Lessing 1923, with illustrations of some of the paintings mentioned here and P.F. Schmidt in Thieme/Becker 1907-1950, vol. 21 (1927), p. 54. [Van Leeuwen 2018] On F. Kobell: Biedermann 1973.

2 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Gerson quotes Lessing 1923, p. 9.

3 [Gerson 1942/1983] Lessing 1923, ill. 12-14, 16. On Ferdinand Kobell and Dutch painting of the 17th century: Biedermann 1973, p. 32-35.

4 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Gerson quotes Lessing 1923, p. 25: ‘The taste of the collectors appreciated such paintings, which were very popular as a substitute for the real Dutch masters of the 17th century’ (in translation).

5 [Van Leeuwen 2018] About the last quote: Biedermann 1973, p. 32.

6 [Van Leeuwen 2018] On Wilhelm von Kobell: Wichmann et al. 1970.

7 [Gerson 1942/1983] The Ford of 1798 (Kassel) is still in the taste of Adriaen van de Velde (Lessing 1923, ill. 44).

8 [Van Leeuwen 2018] On the watercolours of Wilhelm von Kobell: Valter/Rieger 2006.

9 [Gerson 1942/1983] Two cows (collection Lamey; Lessing 1923, p. 178, no. 19: ‘made between 1800 and 1808’; Biermann 1914, ill. 928) like a follower of Potter. [Van Leeuwen 2018] Gerson probably mixed up the oeuvres of Wilhelm and Ferdinand Kobell: there is really no trace in Wilhelm’s work of Jacob van Ruisdael and Allard van Everdingen, except maybe in his early drawings (Wichmann et al. 1970, p. 5). For Ferdinand Kobell, on the other hand, Ruisdael was an important model (e.g. fig. 2).

10 [Van Leeuwen 2018] On Dillis: Heilmann/Hardtwig et al. 1991, Hardtwig et al. 2003. Contrary to Gerson’s remark, It is clear that Dillis studied Dutch art also later in his career, see fig. 12 (after Asselijn) en 13 (after Hobbema) and RKDimages 291236 (also after Hobbema) and RKDimages 291228 (after Ruisdael).

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] Jacob 1927. [Van Leeuwen 2018] On Kuntz: Benedict 1981.

12 [Van Leeuwen 2018] On Wagenbauer: Heine 1972.

13 [Van Leeuwen 2018] See § 2.2.

14 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Oldenbourg 1922, vol. 1, p. 61-62. Potter’s painting formed an inspiration for several artists. When Max Joseph Wagenbauer painted an artwork influenced by it in 1805, it was so much appreciated by the then Prince-Elector Maximilian I Josef of Bavaria that the prince urged Wagenbauer to go on in the same direction, which he did (Kraan 2002, p. 95).

15 [Van Leeuwen 2018] On Adam: Holland 1915.

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