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Johann Wilhelm Walkhoff

(1789 Gröbzig in Anhalt-Dessau – 1822 Naples)

View of the Gulf of Naples. Etching on wove paper. 13.8 x 19.5 cm. Inscribed “allo Scudillo sopra Napoli” probably in the artist’s own hand. 1820.

Johann Wilhelm Walkhoff, a landscape painter who died young, was taught by Carl Wilhelm Kolbe in Dessau. He began studying theology around 1810. Financial support from the family of the counts of Posern enabled him to travel to Rome in 1815 to study landscape painting. Shortly afterwards the artist made the acquaintance in Albano of Johann Christian Reinhart, who was to exert a considerable influence on his work. In 1817/18 and 1820 Walkhoff was in Sicily. At the exhibition in Palazzo Caffarelli in Rome in 1819 the artist had four landscapes on display which Nagler described as “aptly chosen and diligently executed”. A few years later, in 1822, Walkhoff committed suicide. His etchings are very rare. Nagler mentions etched views of Naples and its environs but does not record any individual impressions. The present little sheet shows a view of the Gulf  of Naples from Salita Scudello, a hill above the city. The pleasant etching has been executed in an intricate and precise etching technique which shows that the artist was an accomplished master of the art. Occasional little staffage figures in traditional costume invigorate the picturesque scene; the narrow hatching produces fine atmospheric transitions towards the distant horizon, where the silhouette of Mount Vesuvius towers above the expanse of sea. A very fine, nuanced impression with the full margins, Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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