Oswald Achenbach

 

Artist Biography:

Born in Düsseldorf in 1827, Oswald Achenbach was among the foremost German landscape painters of the nineteenth century. Achenbach was fortunate to be introduced to the world of art early in his life. His brother Andreas, twelve years his senior, began his studies at the Düsseldorf Academy in the year of Oswald’s birth, and soon achieved great fame as the founder of the German realistic school. The younger Achenbach benefited greatly from his brother’s tutelage, and accompanied him on hugely rewarding visits to Tyrol and Upper Italy. In 1844, Achenbach followed his brother’s example in entering the Düsseldorf Academy, and was to study there for the following five years. Since the appointment of Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow as its director in 1826, the Academy had become internationally famous as a centre of Christian art, to which pupils flocked from throughout Europe and America. Achenbach flourished at the Düsseldorf Academy, and in 1850, the year after the completion of his studies there, a long stay in Italy transformed his career. Achenbach was captivated by the Italian landscape, and from that point the scenery of that country was to be his predominant theme, giving him ample opportunity to develop the rich use of colour that characterised his work. Achenbach’s stunning paintings were not slow to gain popularity among the art lovers of Europe, and this was matched by the critical acclaim that he enjoyed: Achenbach won a number of awards for his work, perhaps the most significant being the Légion d’honneur, which he won in 1863. That year saw him return to Düsseldorf, in order to take up a professorship in landscape painting at the Academy that had served him so well. Achenbach’s teaching career was successful, and he could number such fine artists as Theodor Hagen and Gregor von Bochmann among his protégés. However, he increasingly found that his teaching responsibilities presented an unacceptable distraction from his creative work, and he resigned from the post in 1872. Achenbach now returned to his painting with renewed zest, and he was to maintain a prolific output for the remainder of his career. His last extensive voyage through Italy was in 1882, but he continued to visit Upper Italy in the following years, and met with inspiration as great as he encountered on his first visit, decades previously. A true child of Düsseldorf, Oswald Achenbach was made an honorary citizen of the city in 1897; and it was there that he died, on February 1, 1905.

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