Belle Époque Splendor: The Discerning Eye of a Collector

Belle Époque Splendor: The Discerning Eye of a Collector

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 129. Terasse sur les hauteurs de Florence.

Oswald Achenbach

Terasse sur les hauteurs de Florence

Auction Closed

May 25, 06:44 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 USD

Lot Details


Oswald Achenbach


1827 - 1905

Terasse sur les hauteurs de Florence

signed and dated Osw. Achenbach 1891 (lower left)

oil on canvas

canvas: 47⅛ by 59 in.; 119.7 by 149.9 cm

framed: 60 by 70½ in.; 152.4 by 179 cm

Private collection, France
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, 12 February 1997, lot 137
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Together with his brother Andreas, Oswald Achenbach was one of the most important landscape painters of the Düsseldorf School. A precocious student, he finished his studies at the Academy at sixteen and began a life of travel that led him to Italy on numerous occasions. The artist was primarily interested in the atmosphere and effects of southern light, which he was able to masterfully capture at almost any time of day in an intense and often glowing palette.

Like many artists and travelers before him, Achenbach fell under the spell of the beauty of Florence, the symbol of the Renaissance and apogee of culture and art. Fascinated by its vistas, he captured the city from a high vantage point above the urban landscape, allowing the viewer to obtain a panoramic view of the city on the Arno. The viewer’s gaze is led above the elegantly-clad tourists in the foreground towards the city’s prominent landmarks: the cathedral rising up at the heart of Florence, its dome designed by Brunelleschi, and the Palazzo Vecchio with its imposing tower rising at left. The scene is bathed in a warm glow of gold and purple hues, the last rays of the setting sun captured on the horizon as the group of figures is turning away from the spectacular view ready to return home from a day of sight-seeing.

Towards the end of his life, Achenbach's execution became much broader, with less focus on detail but rather on texture, achieved by thick impasto worked onto canvas with the palette knife and his fingers. His palette lightened up considerably, employing more pastel colors and dramatic contrasts.

During his lifetime, Achenbach enjoyed enormous social prestige and economic success, brought about by his position as Professor at the Dusseldorf Academy and his wealthy patrons, such as Karl Anton, Prince of Hohenzollern.