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Andreas Auerbach - The Shore

Andreas Achenbach (1815-1910), German
The Shore, Scheveningen, 1849
OIL ON CANVAS, 17 5/8 by 23 ½ inches
Gift of Horace Fairbanks

Achenbach was among the most famous and influential artists of his day, a distinguished reputation that has dwindled steadily since the later nineteenth century. During his own time, however, Achenbach's dramatic, luminous landscapes captivated audiences through­out Europe and the United States. During an era when many young American art­ists—including Albert Bierstadt and Worthington Whittredge, who are also in the Athenaeum's collection—traveled abroad to complete their training in the academies of Europe, Achenbach's fame drew many aspiring landscapists to Dusseldorf to study with him.

Located on the North Sea on the outskirts of The Hague in the Netherlands, Scheveningen has become a tourist resort and retains relatively little vestige of the modest fishing community that Achenbach portrayed in 1849. Here, several boats are drawn up on the beach and women carry their baskets to retrieve the day's catch. Brilliant morning light dawns behind the looming clouds approaching from the right, balancing the hopefulness of a new day with a sense of the danger inherent in the community's reliance upon the sea. Despite its relatively small scale, Achenbach's The Shore, Scheveningen distills a potent sense of the sublime through its dramatic contrasts of light and dark, vibrant palette, massive cloud formations, and expansive space.