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Viktor Paul Mohn

(1842 Meissen – 1911 Berlin)

Roman Campagna Landscape with View of Olevano and Civitella. Oil on paper, mounted on cardboard. 18.8 x 25 cm.

This sensitively observed and densely atmospheric landscape study is one in a long tradition of works by German artists, who had been making their way to Olevano since about 1800, when Joseph Anton Koch visited the village for the first time. For almost the whole of the 19th century Olevano was a place of pilgrimage for countless German landscape and genre painters. Artists like Koch, Jakob Wilhelm Mechau, Johann Georg von Dillis, Philipp Fohr, Franz Horny (who was buried in the local church of S. Rocco in 1824), Ludwig Richter, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld and Carl Blechen went there to capture the austere and striking beauty of the Campagna landscape in their pictures, watercolours and drawings (see Domenico Riccardi, Olevano e i suoi Pittori, Rome 2004).

The painter and illustrator Viktor Paul Mohn studied at the Dresden Academy and from 1861 to 1866 continued his training in the studio of Ludwig Richter, whose style strongly influenced him, especially in his graphic work. The artist spent the years 1868–69 in Rome, to which period the present landscape study probably dates. Mohn is a typical representative of Late Romanticism and his work is characterized by a predilection for the narrative, genre-like detail reminiscent of the late Richter. However, like many other artists of his time, he reveals in this small study done directly from life a more spontaneous and almost intimate side of his talent. The landscape chosen here recurs in very similar form in a watercolour by Franz Horny dating from circa 1818 (see Riccardi, op. cit. p. 95, fig. 88). Mohn’s observation of nature is refreshingly unaffected and direct. The artist has dispensed with any anecdotal detail. What remains is a landscape impression of timeless beauty. Broad, sure brush strokes are used to indicate the shrubs and trees in the foreground. The hot midday sun casts deep shadows and parches the earth with its merciless heat. On the left of the horizon rises the majestic silhouette of the mountain village of Olevano.

With the artist’s estate stamp on the verso.

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