Studying first in Geneva and then in Rome, both in his father's studio and subsequently at the Academia di San Luca, Hermann Corrodi had the good fortune to be brought up in a very international milieu. Through commissions from the British and Austro-Hungarian royal empires he gained international acclaim. Following his marriage to a women from the Italian aristocracy, he spent summers in Rome and winters in Baden-Baden and Hamburg, where he received many commissions from the German upper classes.
It is for his Orientalist scenes that Corrodi is most highly acclaimed. In the 1880s, he embarked on a trip to Egypt, Syria, Cyprus and Constantinople. What is so appealing about Corrodi's scenes is that they are almost like snapshots of daily life, people captured collecting water or leading laden camels. Caroline Juler writes of Corrodi that his 'technique is remarkable for the subdued and meticulous gradations of colour, his games with shadow and light, and his inspirational subjects, as much abstract as narrative' (C. Juler, Les Orientalistes de l'Ecole Italienne, Paris, 1994, p. 66).
Juler's comment is most pertinent went discussing our picture The Carpet Merchant. Corrodi's exceptional ability in composition and colour is illustrated here. We feel as though we ourselves are standing looking through the deep archway to the carpet sellers beyond. The earthy colours of the architecture are interjected with the powerful reds and blues of the carpets which hang from the walls. Corrodi captures the subtle changes in texture beautifully through the subtle gradations of colour that Juler discusses: from the flat, solid wall of the archway to the softer architecture beyond which catches the morning light.
His artistic talent was recognised by the British Royal Family, who purchased several of his works. He exhibited frequently until his death; at the Royal Academy in 1881, at the annual exhibition of Amatori e Cultori di Bella Arti in Rome, 1894, and at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900.