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Oil painting - River, with Fishing Boats
  • River, with Fishing Boats
    Adloff, Karl, born 1819 - died 1863
  • Enlarge image

River, with Fishing Boats

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Dusseldorf (painted)

  • Date:

    1859 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Adloff, Karl, born 1819 - died 1863 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John M. Parsons

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Karl Adloff (1819-1853) was born and died in Düsseldorf, where he seems to have spent his entire life. He specialised in landscape paintings, especially in sea-views. Unfortunately, very little is known of his life.

This painting is a fine example of Adloff's output which essentially includes landscape paintings and sea-views in which his depiction of light infuses the compositions with a sense of calm. This work is particularly close to a painting by the Dutch artists Jan van Goyen, Near Dordrecht, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and may derive from such composition. The large atmospheric sky and floating barrel are recurring devices in these compositions. 17th-century Dutch paintings aroused a new interest in the 19th century and became a great source of inspiration, especially in Germany and Austria where artists produced similar scenes in a very neat and highly detailed finish, which contrasts with the broad manner of their predecessors.

Physical description

A sea view at dawn bathed into a diffuse golden light, with figures on rowing boats in the foreground, a floating barrel on the right, in the middle distance another rowing boat packed with figures and a siling boat behind; in the background on each side stripes of land with a church spire and windmills under a large cloudy sky.

Place of Origin

Dusseldorf (painted)


1859 (painted)


Adloff, Karl, born 1819 - died 1863 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'C Adloff 1859'
Signed and dated by the artist, lower left


Height: 68.6 cm estimate, Width: 109.2 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Bequeathed by John M. Parsons, 1870
John Meeson Parsons (1798-1870), art collector, was born in Newport, Shropshire. He later settled in London, and became a member of the stock exchange. His interest in railways led to his election as an associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1839, and he was director or chairman of two railway companies between 1843 and 1848. Much of his time however was spent collecting pictures and works of art. In his will he offered his collection of mostly German and Dutch schools to the National Gallery (which selected only three works) and to the Department of Science and Art at South Kensington, later the Victoria and Albert Museum. The South Kensington Museum acquired ninety-two oil paintings and forty-seven watercolours. A number of engravings were also left to the British Museum.

Historical significance: This painting is characteristic of Adloff's output of landscapes and seascapes with figures. The play of light and reflections on the water is characteristic of his art and reminiscent of such Dutch masters of the 17th century as Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), from whose oeuvre he may have derived the present composition.
Another version, dated 1858, with a similar central scene and slight changes in the disposition of the buildings in the right background was sold at Lempertz. Cologne, 21 may 2005, lot 1026. This work appears however as a nocturne scene and may have constituted a prototype for the later present version.
Adloff's highly detailed and refined brushwork is typical of the post-Romantic imagery still en vogue in the second half of the 19th century. Adloff was sometimes accused of lacking a distinctive style but this is a common trend to most of the landscape painters of the second half of the 19th century.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'River, with Fishing Boats', Karl Adloff, German school, 1859

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 1, cat. no.. 3


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

River; Fishing boats




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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