HUMMEL, Johann Erdmann
(b. 1769, Kassel, d. 1852, Berlin)

Granite Basin in the Lustgarten

c. 1831
Oil on canvas, 66 x 89 cm
Nationalgalerie, Berlin

The years between the defeat of Napoleon in 1815 and the revolutions of 1848, known as the Biedermeier era, were a time of relative peace, prosperity, and innovation in German-speaking Europe. The art of the period came to be characterized by what a critic of the day called "rigorous simplicity." In painting, emphasis was given to the objective recording of natural phenomena, and artists sought to achieve an enamel-like finish that masked individual brushstrokes. Landscape and portraiture grew in importance while history painting declined.

Berlin was expanding rapidly, growing to fulfil its role as a major European capital. Imposing new public buildings by Schinkel and his disciples were being constructed. Painters like Eduard Gärtner and Johann Erdmann Hummel chose Berlin as their subject, carefully depicting the architectural and technological wonders, like the huge granite bowl that adorned the centre of the city.

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