Gallery of the 19th Century
Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer, um 1817
The Hamburger Kunsthalle holds one of the most important collections of 19 th Century paintings. The Galleries of the 19 th Century open with works by artists of Romanticism and close with German Impressionism. The years 1800 and 1914, thresholds of epochs, determine beginning and end of this department. The beginning is marked by the radical renewal of art through Romanticism, while the end coincides with World War I – despite an incision in the development of art being apparent some time earlier through the avant-garde of Expressionism and Abstraction.
The rooms in which the collection of 19 th Century painting is displayed are arranged chronologically. The display commences with room 118, dedicated to the work of Philipp Otto Runge. He stems from a family of ship owners and merchants from Wolgast and died 1810 aged 33. Nearly his entire surviving oeuvre is held by the Kunsthalle and the Graphics Department. Apart from Caspar David Friedrich, Runge is the most important painter of early Romanticism. Both rejected the regulations of academic Classicism and instead invoked the „pure sentiment" of the artist. Runge did not confine his versatile ideas to painting alone, he ascribed a comprehensive meaning for life to art. Runge also published a theory of colour as well as fairy tales.
Runge's famous expression Es drängt sich alles zur Landschaft (Everything thrives towards landscape) is visualised in the image The Rest on the Flight to Egypt from 1805. He unified the biblical story with the landscape to form a new sensual unit.
With their expressiveness and presence Runge's portraits belong to the masterpieces of art. His child-portraits present the child as an individual. This applies to the representations of his own children as much as to the renowned painting of his friend Hülsenbeck's three children. Here he depicted children full of vibrancy, ready to discover the world.
The representation of his parents is distinguished by a harsh realism, much like his three self-portraits. The two versions of Morning (1808/09) on the other hand demonstrate Runge's search for the symbolic representation of genesis. Due to the painter's premature death the large version of Morning remains unfinished. In the late 19 th Century it was cut to pieces, which were restored at the Kunsthalle in the early 20 th Century.
Room 119 presents major works of Classicism and Romanticism. While Joseph Anton Koch's Italian landscapes still represent the classical ideal landscape, his heroic mountain landscape Waterfall in the Bernese Alps (1796) was inspired by the liberal ideas of the French Revolution.
The Nazareens on the other hand looked back to medieval ideals and paintings by Raphael and Dürer. The Wedding at Kana (1819) by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld represents one of the major works of this religiously oriented reformation-movement of painting at the beginning of the 19 th Century.
The 14 works by Caspar David Friedrich form the climax of Romantic landscape painting in room 120. Paintings such as Wanderer Overlooking the Sea of Fog (1818) and The Arctic Sea (1823/24) represent the loneliness of the modern subject placed in a majestic landscape, as well as the failure of man in a hostile natural environment. In Friedrich's oeuvre landscape is imbued with an existential meaning, it becomes a metaphor for human fate. Thus the Graves of Fallen Freedom Fighters (1813) with their threatening cave landscape predict the defeat of the French invaders. While Friedrich here employs the landscape as a metaphor for a political statement, his seascape Sea Shore in Moonlight (1835) serves as a symbol of the ephemeral of existence on earth. This painting is the last work Friedrich managed to complete before he suffered a stroke.
The work of the so-called Germano-Romans Anselm Feuerbach, Arnold Böcklin, Hans von Marées and Adolf Hildebrand is presented in room 121. Their work is influenced by yearlong sojourns in Rome. A portrait such as Bianca Capello by Anselm Feuerbach bears clear traces of the ideal portrait from Renaissance. At the same time this picture is a portrait of his lover, who adopted the role of a tragic female historic figure. Böcklin's famous Ailantery (1886) is inspired by cults from antiquity. Here Böcklin sets a past rite in a theatrical scene creating a counterpart to the materialist present.
Adolph Menzel and the painters of the Leibl-circle are displayed in the next room. Menzel's oil-painting skills are self-taught. During the 1840s he completed several studies featuring members of his family. The painting of his sleeping sister Emilie belongs to this group. The Laying-Out of the Fallen March Revolutionaries (1848) testifies to Menzel's great sympathy with the events of the March Revolution in Berlin. Due to his disappointment with the failure of the insurgency the painting remained unfinished. The studio wall, decorated with haunting plaster casts and death masks (1872) is a coded manifestation of ephemerality and a precursor of the surreal imagery of the 20 th Century.
Wilhelm Leibl's works show various modes of expression employed by the artist. On the one hand Three Women in Church (1878-1882) fascinate with their technique, reminiscent of the realism achieved in photography, yet the unfinished portrait of Countess Rosine Treuberg (1878) gains a particular liveliness through the fast and sketchy method of the Impressionists. The painter, who had retired to the isolation of Upper Bavaria, always strove for utmost truthfulness.
French painting from the latter half of the 19 th Century forms another emphasis in the galleries. In rooms 131-134 masterpieces by nearly all the renowned painters of the period such as Gustave Courbet, Camille Corot, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Paul Cézanne can be found.
The display in room 131 focuses on the major works of Realism and Impressionism. Two landscapes by Courbet painted with much temperament, Die Grotte der Loue (1864) and Winter Landscape with the Dents du Midi (1876) are on view. Renoir is represented impressively with his monumental painting Riding in the Bois de Boulogne (1873) and his early still life Flowers in the Greenhouse (1864). The painter of modern life, Edouard Manet, is represented with several important works. Apart from the notorious representation of Nana (1877) the lively portraits of the author Henri Rochefort (1881) and the singer Jean Baptiste Faure as Hamlet (1877) are worth mentioning. Claude Monet's still life Pears and Grapes (1880) acquired in 1897 was the first of his works in a museum collection. His painting Waterloo Bridge from 1902 is the atmospherically vivid representation of a motif, of which he painted numerous versions. Renoir's animated likeness of Madame Hériot (1882) provides a contrast to the strict profile of his wife (1890) by Toulouse-Lautrec. With four paintings and one of the famous ballet dancer sculptures, Degas is particularly well represented.
Room 132 is dedicated to the School of Barbizon. The painters of Barbizon, among them Theodore Rousseau, Constant Troyon, Narcisse Diaz de la Pena, Charles-Francois Daubigny, Jean Francois Millet and temporarily Camille Corot, discovered simple nature. They aimed for the realistic representation of landscapes, which they studied in front of the motif – en plein air. The important painters of Barbizon are represented with pre-eminent works in the collection of the Kunsthalle. Not just the atmospheric landscapes by Corot are displayed, but also three of his poetic and melancholic portraits, among them TheMonk (1874) playing the violoncello, the best-known of the last paintings Corot completed before his death.
The Makart-hall (room 135/136/136a) is dominated by Makart's monumental piece The Entering of Emperor Karl V. in Antwerp (1878). The scandal and success-painting by the „Duke of Painters" exemplifies the type of history painting, which reached its climax during the period of promoterism. Artists of the 19 th Century repeatedly derived their themes from antiquity and its myths. Léon Gérome's Phryne Before Areopagus (1861) and Lawrence Alma-Tadema's scenes of rites from antiquity are important examples of this genre, which was particularly successful in salon exhibitions.
Symbolist and Realist works form the counterpart. Giovanni Segantini's painting The Consolation of Faith (1896) links a Realist landscape with a religious pictorial message. Max Liebermann's Repairing the Nets (1884-89) is confined to strict Realism, which celebrates the self-realisation within labour. Liebermann extended his Realist approach to religious works, such as The Twelve Year Old Jesus at the Temple (1879). This is why his opponents called him the „Apostle of Ugliness".
Only after 1900 Liebermann turned to representations of bourgeois leisure-activities. This is the time when Liebermann realised the views of Hamburg The Terrace at the Restaurant Jacob in Nienstedten at the Elbe (1902) and Evening at the Uhlenhorst Ferry House (1910), which Alfred Lichtwark had commissioned.