(b. 1818, Danzig, d. 1869, Berlin)


German painter. He first studied painting in Danzig as his father had done and in 1838 he went to Berlin, where he was refused admission at the Akademie der Künste by Johann Gottfried Schadow because of insufficient artistic talent. He then became a pupil of the marine painter Wilhelm Krause (1803-1864). In 1840 he undertook study trips to Scandinavia, England and Scotland, and the following year he went to Paris. He spent six months in the studio of Eugene Isabey, learning his technique of painting in watercolour. This was a formative period for his artistic development, and Isabey's influence would persist in his later oils and watercolours. While in Paris he painted mainly landscapes but also harbour scenes and seascapes.

In 1843 he returned to Berlin, where he met Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), with whom he enjoyed a close friendship. Through Humboldt, he received a commission from Frederick William IV to paint a view of Rio de Janeiro (the Bay of Rio de Janeiro, 1844; Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie), and he arrived there in 1844, using the city as a base for further explorations of Brazil.

He returned to Germany by way of Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, bringing with him a portfolio of plein-air studies in watercolour, and pencil and chalk. These consist of panoramas of towns; views of colonial buildings, harbours and native settlements; landscapes and genre scenes; and studies of the inhabitants as well as a few of plants and fish. From sketches done in South America he executed a number of paintings, paying utmost attention to the effects of light in nature.

In oil he gradually produced less, in watercolours more, and his fame must rest on the sketches which he made in the latter form, many of them represented by chromolithography. Fantasies in red, yellow and opal, sunset, sunrise and moonshine, distances of hundreds of miles like those of the Andes and the Himalaya, narrow streets in the bazaars of Cairo or Suez, panoramas as seen from mast-heads, wide cities like Bombay or Peking, narrow strips of desert, all display his quality of bravura.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.