Carl Gustav Rodde's 1892 canvas An Italian Village By A Lake is a luscious reproduction of a popular holiday destination for the well-heeled of the late-nineteenth century. Born in Gdansk in what is now modern Poland, Rodde started his career by studying at the Art and Trade School in Gdansk, where he studied under Johann Karl Schultz, an architectural painter whose Italian motifs attracted great popular acclaim in the mid-nineteenth century. Rodde, following his tuition by Schultz, moved to the Düsseldorf Academy, a centre that produced many of the leading names in European painting. At the time Rodde entered the Academy it had become synonymous with the great generation of landscape painters of the 1830s and 1840s, whose influence pervaded the style across the continent. In Düsseldorf Rodde studied under JW Schirmer and Carl Friedrich Lessing, the two founders of the Düsseldorf school of landscape painting. Schirmer was a figure whose ingenuity and approach to graphic weight intensified the emphasis of color and sound effect in landscape painting. Lessing, seen by many as the successor of the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, was a master of historical painting, minimalizing grandeur in favour of a subtle, almost experiential rendering of his subjects.
As such one can grasp a great deal about Rodde, a little known figure today, and his An Italian Village By A Lake, which at first presents itself as something akin to a vintage postcard but emerges as a fine product balancing the skills of his three prestigious tutors. After spending a year in Munich, Carl Gustav Rodde spent the years 1858 to 1861 in Italy. The Italian landscape made an indelible impression on Rodde and remained a major motif in his work until his death. This 1892 reproduction of an Italian scene was most likely rendered memory, and is a lasting testament to the powerful and magnetic grip which the area had on countless artists of the nineteenth century.
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