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Otto Scholderer

Englische Landschaft (English Landscape), ca. 1884

Oil on cardboard

Signed at bottom right: O. Scholderer

The bright palette with which Scholderer reproduces this summer landscape in the county of Wiltshire in southwest England tells of his close ties to French painting. The artist captures the typically English weather – the showers alternating with sunny intervals – and the crisp, clear air that it generates in the large, dynamic cloud formations in the background.
The foreground is dominated by a river slowly wending its way through lush green meadows. Scholderer’s keen interest in reproducing the quality of the ambient light and the exact distribution of light and shade is especially apparent in his handling of the trees and patches of sky reflected in the water. His choice of view and rendition of the world of nature as it is, without overdrawing, reveal another important influence: the landscape painting of John Constable,1 who was one of the first artists to turn his back on the academy and the idealized pastoral scenes propagated there and instead to paint nature just as he found it in his native Suffolk. There he produced numerous nature studies sur le motif and devoted a lot of time and energy to translating rapidly changing weather phenomena into paint. Exhibited in Paris in 1825, his extraordinarily modern-looking style of painting sparked quite a furor in the French art world and fell on especially fertile soil among the Barbizon School of plein air painters.2 These were the artists whom Scholderer knew from his numerous visits to Paris and his participation in the Paris Salons of 1865, 1869, and 1870, and who had a formative impact on his personal approach to landscape painting.3 Landscapes are nevertheless quite a rarity in Scholderer’s oeuvre. His artistic legacy numbers only thirty such works all told and the vast majority of those few that he produced in England between 1871 and 1899 are studies.

Scholderer spent the summer of 1884 in Wiltshire, where in addition to this painting he produced another landscape4 that in contrast to this one he elaborated by adding staffage in the form of animals and a figure sitting on the riverbank and gazing into the distance. The dating of our painting was derived from two studies dated the same year, only one of which has survived.5

  1. John Constable (1776–1837).

  2. Bagdahn, Jutta M., Otto Franz Scholderer 1834–1902. Monographie und Werkverzeichnis (Diss. Freiburg/Br. 2002), p. 143.

  3. Also worthy of mention is Scholderer’s personal acquaintance with Gustav Courbet, Eduard Manet und Henri Fantin-Latour.

  4. See Bagdahn 2002, WZV No. 246.

  5. Ibid, p. 150.

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