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Friedrich Nerly

1807 Erfurt – 1878 Venice

Together with the prematurely deceased Franz Horny, Friedrich Nerly is undoubtedly the most significant artistic personality among the pupils of Carl Friedrich von Rumohr (1785–1843). It was in Hamburg in 1823 that Nerly met his mentor and teacher, who was a generation older than he was, and both set off on a tour to Italy in the spring of 1828. In December 1828, after lengthy stays in Florence and Siena, Nerly arrived in Rome, where he was to live and work until 1835. It was not the artistic patrimony of Italy, but the southern landscape that became the decisive experience for the young artist. Nerly had been systematically educated in nature study by Rumohr at an early stage and he devoted himself to capturing the light-filled Mediterranean landscape with bravura and remarkable artistic talent. During his first years in Rome Nerly went on extended walks exploring the environs of the city and the Roman Campagna and spent the summer months in the Sabine Hills. The discovery of the southern landscape was translated into numerous drawings, watercolours and oil studies which have a spontaneity and immediacy in their depiction of nature that is far ahead of their time. Nerly must have been stimulated by his contacts with the like-minded German artists whom he got to know in Rome. The Nazarenes Friedrich Overbeck, Philipp Veit and Peter von Cornelius, belonged to his inner circle of friends, which was later to be joined by Friedrich Preller and Erwin Speckter. He developed a particularly close relationship with Johann Christian Reinhart (1761–1847), one of the leading masters of idealized landscape painting in Rome and, together with Joseph Anton Koch, a beacon for the young German artists living in the Eternal City.