Caspar David Friedrich is attributed with popularising the landscape as a form of genre art and uses a darker sepia wash to contrast between earthy foreground and a paler range of background mountains in ‘Landscape in Bohemia with a View of Mount Jeschken’. A variety of media, from the broad strokes of charcoal to fine pencil, is applied with different techniques to achieve chiaroscuro, a contrast between light and shade. Red chalk is used softly by Johann Christian Brand to create the subtle tones of a cornfield landscape. ‘The Brocken on a May Morning’ watercolour of Georg Heinrich Crola captures the sparkling freshness of an early morning solitary walk on a fresh Spring day. Attention to the detail within these small-framed works pays off particularly to the widely travelled viewer. ‘The Ponte Salario’ is captured with the fine precision of a pencil drawing by Johann Christoph Erhard. ‘View of Rome with the Baths of Titus’ is a rewarding study by Joseph Anton Koch.
However the earlier works of Old Master Durer is the main attraction. With many of Durer’s print drawings not surviving the process of transferring the lines to the carved surface of a wood block by a technician it is a privilege to enjoy the delightfully detailed ‘Design for a Table-Fountain’ that shows an Italian style in its composition. The Artists exhibited in the Eldon Gallery continue to exert influence over today’s contemporary Art. A possible self-portrait of Durer wearing a turban in ‘Youth kneeling in front of Portentate’ is included. Durer’s self-dramatising approach to self-portraiture remains popular centuries later. The line drawings on display are yet to be surpassed by graphic Artists. Hans Holbein the Younger’s ‘Figure of a Woman in Contemporary Dress’ displays admirable modelling, direct representation of face and accentuated volume of the dress akin to the international style of portraiture. Yet inhaling the beauty of the countryside captured by this selection of Artists inspired by the Old Master, it is Durer’s legacy in introducing some of the first pure landscape watercolours to Western Art I am duly thankful for.