Carl Hilgers (1818-1890) Winter Lake Scene Oil on canvas

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Carl Hilgers (1818-1890)

Winter Lake Scene Oil on canvas

Canvas size: 14 3/4” x 18 3/4” Framed size: 23 1/2” x 28”

Signed l.r.: C Hilgers 1850 1850

During the nineteenth century, Düsseldorf, Germany became one of the leading centers of artistic thought and practice. At the city's art school, the Staatliche Kunstakademie, the Romantic movement, which was sweeping across Europe and which would eventually influence the painters of the United States, was welcomed and advanced. For the first time landscape painting was warmly embraced as worthy of depiction. Romantic philosophies encouraged the painter to portray his own personal response to the landscape he represented, thus allowing for the depiction of deeply emotive and sensitive works.

It was into this philosophical environment that Carl Hilgers was immersed. The artist was born in Düsseldorf as well as studied at its Academy under the tutelage of Johann Wilhelm Schirmer (1807-1863). Apart from four years residency in Berlin and various study trips to other parts of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France, Hilgers lived almost continuously in Dusseldorf. Carl Hilgers’ works were much praised by his contemporaries and he became one of the best-known artists from the Düsseldorf school. His free brushwork and atmospheric winter landscapes, interrupted by an incidental figure, are hallmarks of his style and give his paintings the Romantic character so typical of the period.

In this fine example of Hilgers’ work the stormy gray sky is reflected in the turbulent waters of the lake. The hard, cold rocks and dark and looming trees give a feeling of isolation to the scene, which is punctuated by a small solitary figure in red pulling his boat up the banks of the lake. In style the painting is absolutely characteristic of Carl Hilgers’ romantic landscapes, and thus beautifully illustrates why he became a foremost figure of the Düsseldorf school.