A View of the Bay of Salerno from Behind
(August Riedel)


While this large-scale panoramic landscape enjoys a superficial connection with the work of the French disciples of Valenciennes, and Riedel had indeed spent some months in Paris before settling in Rome, it is to the work of contemporary German painters working in Italy that it owes more. The first influence is that of J. A. Koch, but one may also see echoes of Vernet and Hackert, but without the hard edge that characterized the work of the latter. The idealized setting would appear the area south of Naples, the distant view being the bay of Salerno, looking west from behind the city. The position of the aqueduct at Cava dei Tirreni, near Salerno, in relation to the distant city has been modified and he has also introduced the Grotto di Posillipo (actually north of Naples), on the extreme right. The temple-like structure atop the hill could have been taken, perhaps, from the excavations at Pompeii.

While many of his German contemporaries had by this date turned to contemporary landscape subjects, biblical stories or quasi-historical Teutonic myths, Riedel here maintains the traditions of the classical landscape. Indeed, in following the tradition established by J. A. Koch in his earlier views done in Italy, he is closer to the seventeenth century ideal. The figures wear Roman garb, the two shepherd boys play a flute and pan-pipes while their older companion, with his fur covered loin cloth, could almost be mistaken for a Satyr. To the right two women return from collecting water, further beyond some oxen are goaded through a stream. Above the viaduct in the distance a large flock of sheep can be seen driven down towards the crossing. Although set in ancient times, such scenes of everyday rural existence could have still been found by the diligent tourist, willing to depart from the popular routes when traveling through the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Riedel, renowned for his use of strong color and ability to portray the effects of the intense southern sun, has created a composition that in its portrayal of light and concentration on the naturalist details of vegetation and rock demonstrates the continuing influence of J. C. Dahl on German painting. By the mid-1830s, when this work was painted, the first railway train in Italy was already being constructed near Naples, transforming the landscape forever. Within a dozen years violent revolution had erupted throughout the peninsular and memories of this idealized past would have seemed purely illusory.

49 ¼ x 67 ¾ ins. 125 x 172 cm.
Oil on canvas

Kunsthandel Alexander Gebhardt, Munich, 1954; Georg Schafer Collection, Schweinfurt


Matthiesen Gallery & Stair Sainty Matthiesen, ‘Spring Catalogue’, 2001

Historical Period
Romanticism - 1810-1870
Capriccio: Architecture
German - Austrian
2001-European Paintings-From 1600-1917.
Baroque, Rococo, Romanticism, Realism, Futurism.

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