Not currently on display at the V&A

Alpine landscape

Oil Painting
1847 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Christian Morgenstern (1805-1867) was born in Hamburg where he trained with Siegfried Bendixen (1786-1864), he later studied at the Kunstakademie in Copenhagen before settling permanently in Munich in 1829. He soon became one of the leading landscape painters of the Munich School.

This painting is a fine example of Morgenstern's art when he started producing larger panoramas while eliminating the immediate foreground. The present painting shows an alpine lake in a wide landscape in brilliant atmospheric colours characteristic of Morgenstern's style. This type of picture was particularly popular with collectors and is a good example of the late Romantic imagery.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil on canvas, 'Alpine Landscape', C.E.B. Morgenstern, German school, 1847
Physical Description
Alpine landscape with a lake on a plain scattred with bushes and a few trees on the left; distant mountains vanishing in the mist in the background.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 67.3cm
  • Estimate width: 85.2cm
Dimensions taken from C.M. Kauffmann, Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
Chr. Morgenstern 1847 (Signed and dated lower left)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend
Object history
Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, listed in the 1868 post-mortem register of the contents of his London house (V&A R/F MA/1/T1181) in the library as 'Oil on Canvas. Alpine landscape. By Chr. Morgenstern. In frame. Signed. German. Dated 1847'; bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868.



The Townshend Bequest was made in 1868, according to the Will of Chauncey Hare Townshend. As can be ascertained from the registered files, the bequest entered the museum in that year. In his introduction to A Descriptive Catalogue of the Historical Collection of Water-colour Paintings in the South Kensington Museum (London: Chapman na d Hall, 1876) Samuel Redgrave also gives the date of the bequest as 1868 as does Kauffman in; Kauffmann, C.M.Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London: 1973). However in more recent publications the date has been given as 1869, which is the year in which the objects were catalogued.



Historical significance: This painting is typical of the landscapes in Munich in the mid century. It is a fine example of the late Romantic imagery which favoured large landscape in striking atmospheric conditions and characterised by a high degree of finish.

Morgenstern was particularly attentive at the direct observation of nature and executed many plein-air sketches in watercolours, which constituted a preparation for his paintings executed in his studio.

Like the early Romanticism of Caspar David Friedrich, Morgenstern emphasised the loneliness and spiritual transcendence of landscape in such similar compositions as Landscape in the Oberbayern, dated 1854, Kunsthalle, Hamburg, and Landscape at Lake Starnberg, dated c. 1830–40, Lenbachhaus Museum, Munich.

This painting was probably bought by the Rev. Townshend before 1854-56, when it was seen in his dining room by Waagen, directly from the artist. It was displayed in London house where it completed there a large collection of 19th-century landscapes paintings.
Historical context
The word Romanticism derived from the medieval term 'romance' and was first used by the German poets and critics August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel to label a wider cultural movement beginning with the late 18th and ending towards the mid 19th century. Romanticism started first in Western Europe as a literary and philosophical movement and only gradually involved the other arts, explicitly around 1800. Romantic artists were fascinated by nature they interpreted as a mirror of the mind. They investigated human nature and personality, the folk culture, the national and ethnic origins, the medieval era, the exotic, the remote, the mysterious and the occult. The interest in the exotic and the non-Western, illustrated in France by such a painter as Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), as well as the medieval revival, witnessed in England by Horace Walpole (1717-1797), are perhaps the most identifiable parts of Romanticism. It is really in the Post-Napoleonic period that this movement gained ascendancy. Its greatest proponents were among others Théodore Géricault (1791-1824) and François-René de Chateaubriant (1768-1848) in France, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) in England, Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) and Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) in Germany. In the visual arts, it was largely played out by 1850, but in music it persists for another generation.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Christian Morgenstern (1805-1867) was born in Hamburg where he trained with Siegfried Bendixen (1786-1864), he later studied at the Kunstakademie in Copenhagen before settling permanently in Munich in 1829. He soon became one of the leading landscape painters of the Munich School.



This painting is a fine example of Morgenstern's art when he started producing larger panoramas while eliminating the immediate foreground. The present painting shows an alpine lake in a wide landscape in brilliant atmospheric colours characteristic of Morgenstern's style. This type of picture was particularly popular with collectors and is a good example of the late Romantic imagery.
Bibliographic References
  • Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 , London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 78, cat. no. 169.
  • Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain: Being an account of more than forty collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Mss, etc, London, 1857, p.177.
Collection
Accession Number
1546-1869

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record createdApril 27, 2006
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