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Oil painting - The Torrent
  • The Torrent
    Ezdorf, Christian, born 1801 - died 1851
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The Torrent

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Scandinavia (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    Second quarter of the 19th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ezdorf, Christian, born 1801 - died 1851 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Christian Ezdorf (1801-1851) trained in the Munich Academy and travelled to Hamburg, Copenhagen and England. He later became a member of the Stockholm Academy and was appointed painter to the court of Saxony-Meiningen. His brother Christian-Friedrich (1807-1858) engraved a number of his compositions.

This painting is a fine example of Christian Ezdorf's landscape paintings, a category in which he specialised while travelling in Scandinavia. His art is imbued with penetrating studies of nature and characterised by the rendering of dramatic weather conditions. Ezdorf was a member of the so-called Nordic Artists' Circle gathered around the Norwegian painter Thomas Fearnley (1802-1842) and the Munich artist Christian Ernst Bernhard Morgenstern (1805-1867). Unfortunately, very little is known about his life and oeuvre, which makes it difficult to precisely to date the present painting. This work was bequeathed to the Museum by the Rev. Townshend who gathered a large collection of contemporary European landscape paintings.

Physical description

Under a stormy sky, a torrent is illuminated from the left by a bright light while the rest of the scenery is bathed in the shadow; a group of trees is in the right background while on the left foreground at the bottom of a small construction raised in stilts stand a man seen in profile and two sheep.

Place of Origin

Scandinavia (probably, painted)


Second quarter of the 19th century (painted)


Ezdorf, Christian, born 1801 - died 1851 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

Signed by the artist on wood centre foreground


Height: 60 cm estimate, Width: 80.6 cm estimate

Object history note

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 'An Oil on canvas. The torrent. By Etzdorf. In frame. Signed. German. Present Century'; bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868

Historical significance: Ezdorf was recognised as the most important 'waterfall painter' in Munich and this painting, which focuses on the torrent's flow, is a fine example of his art. Ezdorf's landscape paintings are also characteristically imbued with dramatic weather conditions so as to convey a heartening feeling of nature. This painting shows a woodland torrent dramatically highlighted by a direct light while the rest of the composition is bathed in the shadow under a stormy sky.
The small figures of man and sheep silhouetted in the shade against the torrent's bright hues are characteristic of the Romantic imagery, which concentrates on the contrast between the fragile humanity and the omnipotent nature.
To judge by the scenery this landscape was probably inspired by the Scandinavian countryside.
Such pictures attracted collectors and patrons of the 19th-century. In this regard, the Rev. Townshend's collection is representative of the taste of the century.

Historical context note

The term 'Biedermeier' refers to bourgeois life and art in Germanic Europe, an extensive area embracing such cities as Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna and Prague, from 1815 (the Congress of Vienna) to the revolutions of 1848. Biedermeier painters were ideologically opposed to academic and religious painting and favoured such subject matter as portraits, landscapes and genre scenes, with still-lifes, especially of flowers. They share a similar technique in the use of separate, clear tones and a high degree of finish, reminiscent of Neo-Classicism while they tend to convey a greater sentimentality. By the 1880s, the influence of this artistic movement was on the wane and was even used pejoratively to characterize the reactionary bourgeois elements in society, which remained quite indifferent to social problems and cultivated a sense of order and sobriety, especially in the private sphere and the domestic realm.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'The Torrent', Christian Ezdorf, second quarter of the 19th century

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

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 35, cat. no. 77.


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Rock; Rivers




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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