Gerson Digital : Germany II


6.3 Wandering in the Concepts of Landscape in the 18th Century

Landscape painting deserves separate consideration.1 Again, the successful school was the one that came to terms with French taste, especially with Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. Not the followers of Jacob van Ruisdael and Meindert Hobbema, but the epigones of Jan Both and Nicolaes Berchem continued in the art of the 18th century. In this study we have often mentioned the names of the Berchem and Both followers: the families Roos and Van Bemmel, Johann Franz Ermels, Christoph Ludwig Agricola, Christian Hilfgott Brand, Franz de Paula Ferg, etc.

The lesser known Peter Heyer [1],2 J.E. or H. Schuchmann [2-3]3 and Philip Freund [4-9], who lived in Paris, can be added to these.4

Peter Heyer
Shepherds and cattle at a ford, 18th century
canvas, oil paint 123 x 150 cm
on the back : Peter Heyer
Cologne, art dealer Goyert

J.E. Schuchmann manner of/after Nicolaes Berchem
Shepherdess with cattle at a ruin and grotto, c. 1760
copper, oil paint 38 x 31 cm
lower right : H. Schuchmann
Carl Offermann (Keulen) 1896-04-30 - 1896-05-02, nr. 113

J.E. Schuchmann manner of/after Nicolaes Berchem
Shepherds with cattle at a rock, c. 1760
copper, oil paint 38 x 31 cm
lower left : H. Schuchmann
Carl Offermann (Keulen) 1896-04-30 - 1896-05-02, nr. 114

Philip Freund after Nicolaes Berchem
Coastal landscape with mediterranean harbor scene, ca. 1803
panel, oil paint 23 x 30 cm
lower right : P. Freund
C.J. Wawra (Vienna) 1912-05-06 - 1912-05-07, nr. 17

Philip Freund after Nicolas De Launay after Jan Weenix
The Prodigal Son feasting with the courtesans in the midst of classical ruins, in the distance a Mediterranean harbor, c. 1803
canvas, oil paint 22,5 x 30 cm
center : P. Freund
C.J. Wawra (Vienna) 1912-05-06 - 1912-05-07, nr. 17

Jacques Aliamet after Nicolaes Berchem
Merchant Ships on a mediterranian Coast with a Slave Market, dated 1776
paper, engraving, etching 550 x 663 mm
lower center : Gravé d'Après le Tableau Original de Berghem par J. Aliamet
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./ RP-P-1944-1403

Nicolas De Launay after Jan Weenix
The Prodigal Son feasting with the courtesans in the midst of classical ruins, in the distance a Mediterranean harbor, 1763-1784
paper, engraving ? x ? mm
Leiden, Prentenkabinet van de Universiteit (Leiden), inv./ PK-P-126.275

Nicolaes Berchem
Merchant Ships on a mediterranian Coast with a Slave Market, dated 165[.]
canvas, oil paint 70 x 96 cm
lower left : Berchem 165... ƒ.
Sotheby Parke Bernet (London (England)) 1981-12-09, nr. 16

Jan Weenix
The Prodigal Son feasting with the courtesans in the midst of classical ruins, in the distance a Mediterranean harbor, dated 1667
panel, oil paint 80 x 107 cm
lower left : J Weenix 1667
Paris, Musée du Petit Palais, inv./ P-DUT 936

An offshoot was formed by the followers of Herman Saftleven and Jan Griffier I, for whom the painstakingly clean execution also served as a recommendation. The Schütz family, Joachim Franz Beich and Johann Sebastian Bach are the most important artists. We can even add the grotto-painter Georg Heinirich Hergenröder, who combined arcadian ruins and Schütz-like landscapes.

Apart from Berchem, Philips Wouwerman was the favorite painter of the Rococo. Revered by collectors in France and Germany, which is ̶ given his feathery-dainty painting ̶ very understandable to us, he was imitated time and again by German artists during the whole century. From August Querfurth (born in 1696) until Karl Schulz (born in 1796) and beyond, we can give examples in every generation. These followers of Jan Both, Nicolaes Berchem and Philips Wouwerman sometimes mixed their examples with French and Italian (Venetian) art, so that the uniquely Dutch aspect gradually got lost. They were after all children of the Rococo, who wanted to paint nature in a romantic way.

In the second half of the century a countermovement set in. Artists were looking for the true landscape and the real nature. But as they did not trust their own senses, they saw nature through the eyes of the old Dutch masters, who served to justify the new striving and thus became a stepping stone towards the new realism. This led to a bourgeois classicism, which rejected the ‘old Dutch masters’ for other reasons. The artists of those days didn´t find severe realism in the idyllic and sunny paintings of Jan Both and Nicolaes Berchem.

Therefore Johann Friedrich Weitsch turned away from Both in his later years and edified himself with the heavy forest paintings of Jacob van Ruisdael. The younger Friedrich Georg Weitsch, Wilhelm Kobell and Franz von Dallinger looked to Potter’s heavy animals and smiled about Berchem’s gentle pastorals. Until late into the 19th century, the Dutch masters remained the archetype of a healthy realism, whose schooling was useful to any young artist. The goal was, however, to overcome this stage of old master painting to achieve a true realism.

Next to landscape painting, the new bourgeois taste, unlike the Rococo art of the court, gave new impetus to genre painting. Some telling examples of this phenomenon, such as Johann Jakob Dorner, were offered by Munich art at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries. Here the paintings of Gerard Dou and his school were imitated the most often. Other models were not completely forgotten, as the paintings of Josef Platzer and the Morgenstern family testify. This Renaissance of Dutch painting can be observed equally in Holland itself as well as in Flanders. It is symptomatic for the style of the times.

Jan Both, Nicolaes Berchem, Philips Wouwerman and Jacob van Ruisdael have never been in Germany,5 but their works were to be seen in the princely galleries and other collections. From old auction and collection catalogues we learn, that there were many Dutch pictures in several German cities, like Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg. But finally and primarily Dutch art was known through graphics, both reproductive prints and original etchings.


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] Compare Voss 1936 (review: Goering 1936).

2 [Van Leeuwen 2018] The ‘artist’ P.J. or Peter Heyer is only known by this painting, which is why he was diligently included in Thieme/Becker 1907-1950, vol. 17 (1924), p. 27.

3 [Van Leeuwen 2018] In Thieme/Becker J.E. and H. Schuchmann are identified as the same artist (Thieme/Becker 1907-1950, vol. 30 [1936], p. 308). The only known artworks signed ‘H. Schuchmann’ are completely in the manner of Nicolaes Berchem, or even copies after unknown paintings by Berchem.

4 [Gerson 1942/1983] Philip Freund’s name is only known through these two paintings, auctioned in Vienna in 1912. The works are copies after prints (figs. 6-7), one after Nicolaes Berchem and one after Jan Weenix. It is likely that Freund, if such a person existed, never saw the paintings (fig. 8-9), which were in Paris at the time. Also the ‘fact’ that he was in Paris in 1803, seems to be derived from this.

5 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Obviously, Gerson did not consider Ruisdael’s wanderings around Bentheim and Steinfurt in West Germany as proper visits to Germany.

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