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Friedrich Preller the Elder

(1804 Eisenach – 1878 Weimar)

Satyr and Nymph in a Pastoral, Southern Landscape. Pen and black and grey ink over graphite, grey wash. 22.4 x 29.7 cm. Signed and dated: “18 FP 74”.

Throughout his life Friedrich Preller was a leading proponent of the heroic approach to landscape and, as such, very much in the tradition of his great German predecessors, Joseph Anton Koch and Johann Christian Reinhart. The present study from his late period illustrates very well how dedicated Preller remained to this classical ideal of form during his lifetime. A work of supreme quality, it has been confidently drawn with lively and varied penwork. The precise and effectively applied washes produce a vibrant and invigorating chiaroscuro effect. The scene is, so to speak, a hymn of praise to an ideal, Arcadian world and summarises the many different impressions the artist gathered during his lengthy stays in Italy. The landscape is clearly based on sketches Preller made in the Serpentera near Olevano. The striking, rocky natural scenery is enlivened by a pair of satyrs involved in a heated erotic courtship ritual. A flock of resting sheep and a goat gaze dispassionately at the uninhibited goings-on.

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