KOBELL, Wilhelm von
(b. 1766, Mannheim, d. 1853, München)


Painter, printmaker and teacher, part of a German family of artists, son of Ferdinand Kobell, a landscape painter. The family was originally from Frankfurt am Main and was active in Mannheim and Munich in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Wilhelm was taught first by his father and by his uncle Franz Kobell. He then studied at the Zeichnungsakademie in Mannheim under Franz Anton von Leydendorf (1721-95) and Egid Verhelst, learning the basics of engraving. During this period he familiarized himself with the various artistic trends of his time and earlier periods, including 17th-century Dutch painting and 18th-century English art. In this early period he began to experiment with prints, producing aquatints after 17th-century Dutch paintings in the galleries of Mannheim and Munich.

From 1789 Kobell collaborated with his father on a series of landscapes, including the Aschaffenburg Cycle showing the surroundings of Schloss Johannisburg at Aschaffenburg. In 1790 Elector Palatine Charles Theodore, convinced of the young artist's talent, purchased two landscapes, and the following year granted him 400 florins to travel to England and Italy; instead, Kobell used the money to finance a move (1793) to Munich. From 1792 Charles Theodore paid him an annual sum of 500 florins on condition that he deliver one picture each year to the Elector's Gallery.

Wilhelm developed his father's style of landscape painting as well as producing a number of battle pictures. Stylistically, Kobell based his work on Dutch art. He spent time in Paris, but evaded the influence of the theatrical battle scenes in vogue there.