21 October 1999
Franz Richard Unterberger (Belgian, 1838-1902)
Canale della Giudecca
signed 'F R Unterberger' (lower left)
oil on canvas
32 x 28 in. (83.2 x 71.1 cm.)
Painted circa 1895-1900
Anon. sale, Kunstzentrum Worpswede, Bremen, 15 November 1981, no. 425, pl. 22.
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S. K. Moser, F. R. Unterberger und die salonfhige Landschafts-malerei im 19. Jahrhundert, Vienna, 1986, no. 121 (illustrated).
Bolzano, Galleria Goethe, F. R. Unterberger, February 1992, no. 18 (illustrated in the catalogue).
The development of international tourism in the nineteenth century meant that a new breed of traveller was able to explore the beauty spots of Europe. Franz Richard Unterberger was clearly aware of the increasing interest in these places displayed by the travellers of the time and was surely acquainted with such travel books as Baedecker. High on the list of desirable destinations was Venice, and pictures of the city were increasingly popular as tourist mementos of visits there. Unterberger was eager to produce images of La Serenissima for the picture hungry middle classes.
Unterberger's pictures are depictions of forgotten times, a world of pleasure and beauty with his beloved towns dappled in a festive sunlight; the golden light in his sunsets add to the atmosphere in his works. Unterberger had the masterly quality of pulling his viewers into his landscapes, displaying an idyllic atmosphere with the suggestive smell and taste of the Mediterranean. Perhaps it is a reflection of an element peculiar to the imagination of the nineteenth century that, whereas travellers on the Grand Tour to Italy a century earlier had largely been content with straight 'veduti' as records of the places they visited, now demand arose for a more anecdotal reportage which placed greater emphasis on human interest. The new traveller was no less taken with the beauty of the city of Venice than his ancestor but now he was conditioned to ask for an additional element in his pictures, demanding that the inhabitants as well as the stones of Venice should perform for his pleasure.
Unterberger's Venetian landscapes are impressionistic in touch, with shorter brushstrokes than his earlier works and the use of bright pastel colours and highlights. His canvases were painted largely in his studio in Neuilly after the sketches he would make on the spot on small mahogany panels.
Please note that this work is signed and inscribed 'Venise-F R Unterberger Bruxelles' on the reverse.
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