Architectural Painting

Looking for New Subjects

The genre of architectural painting flourished considerably in the 19th century. As opposed to wide-spread 18th-century veduta tradition, antique and especially medie-val buildings became the primary pictorial themes. Deep perspective image space was replaced by close-up view, depicting the captured architecture in great detail. The growing competition within architectural painting lead to a thematic specialization and a search for new picture content after 1830. Even though Italy still provided plen-tiful subjects for painting, a thematic shift became noticeable. Alongside medieval monastery complexes, numerous 19th-century artists focussed on the Islamic build-ings of Sicily, Spain and the Near East. On the quest for new subjects, they often embarked on long-term study trips. – FG

Gramlich 1990. Gebauer 2000.

Spain in the Sight of German Painters

The artistic opening of Spain and its Islamic heritage by German painters started in 1832 with the journey of Wilhelm Gail (1804-1890). Inspired by the painter of genre and battle scenes Carl Wilhelm Freiherr von Heideck’s Spanish Views – displayed in Munich from 1825 – and the newly published tales by Washington Irving, Gail came to Spain to look for new subjects. He produced picturesque views with the Islamic buildings forming the background of romantic visions (Fig. 1). In Prussia as well, the interest in Spain was growing. Friedrich Wilhelm IV despatched Gail’s younger colleague Eduard Gerhardt (1813-1888) on an extended journey to Spain in 1848. Contrarily to Gail, Gerhardt was not looking for the Exotic, but made precise architectural renditions the central theme of his pictures (Fig. 2). – FG

Gebauer 2000. Gebauer 2007.

Spanish Subjects in Swiss Architectural Painting

Apart from Zurich painter Wilhelm Meyer, other Swiss artists also made their way to Spain. One of them was the far-travelled Basel painter Johann Jakob Frey (1813-1865), who came to Munich via Paris in 1834, from where he embarked on a journey to Italy in 1835 for a study stay of several years. After getting to know the Orient first-hand as member of the Prussian Egypt expedition under archeologist Richard Lep-sius in 1842-1843, Frey went to Spain to draw the Islamic buildings and impressive landscapes of Andalusia (Fig. 3). Solothurn painter Frank Buchser (1828-1890) led an eventful life between Europe, North Africa and the USA. His many travels brought him to Spain for the first time in 1852. Further sojourns followed, during which Buch-ser also studied the Alhambra, as various works of his attest (Fig. 4). – FG

Vedute 1980. Mazzocca/Djokic 1994. Fehlmann 1998. Wiese 2003. Lüthy 2011.

Fig.1 (en)

Fig. 1. Wilhelm Gail, "Löwenhof in der Alhambra in Granada" (Lion Court of the Alhambra in Granada), oil on canvas, 117 x 146 cm, 1835 (Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg / Photographer: Wolfgang Pfauder).

Fig.2 (en)

Fig. 2. Eduard Gerhardt, "Der Löwenhof der Alhambra" (The Lion Court of the Alhambra), oil on canvas, 88 x 76,2 cm, Munich, 1860 (bpk | Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Inv.-Nr. 11630).

Fig. 3. Johann Jakob Frey, "Landschaft bei Granada" (Landscape around Granada), oil on canvas, 67,2 x 91 cm, Rome, 1852 (Kunstmuseum Basel, Inv. 222 / Martin P. Bühler).

Fig. 3. Johann Jakob Frey, "Landschaft bei Granada" (Landscape around Granada), oil on canvas, 67,2 x 91 cm, Rome, 1852 (Kunstmuseum Basel, Inv. 222 / Martin P. Bühler).