Born in Innsbruck, Franz Richard Unterberger attended the Academies of Munich, Weimar and Düsseldorf before studying under the landscapist Oswald von Achenbach from 1860. In 1864, Italy became the focus for Unterberger's landscape work and it was to be his depictions of Italian cities and coastal views that provided the principal motif in his search for il puro vero.
Unterberger's landscapes betray his profound interest in the quality, intensity and effects of light, and none more so than his views of Italy with their luminous depictions of sunlight playing on rippling water. As Erika Mayr-Oehring points out: 'The enchanting way in which he rendered the southern atmosphere with the sun and sea, with light reflection and bustling activity, made him a sought-after "salon painter"' (Catalogue of the exhibition Faszination Landschaft, sterreischische Landschaftsmaler des 19. Jahrhunderts auf Reisen, Residenzgalerie Salzburg, 23 July-24 September 1995, p. 228).