150 years of landscape painting

Dachau
© Adolf Hölzel / Adolf-Hölzel-Stiftung

Adolf Hölzel

Dachau, 1904

Oil on canvas
40,5 × 50,5 cm

signed, dated and inscribed
(HOELZEA/M 53)

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Before Adolf Hölzel was appointed professor and head of the composition class at the Königlich Württem-bergische Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Stuttgart, he had settled in Dachau and was still working in an impressionist style with naturalistic elements and references to reality.
elements and references to reality. The area around Dachau, a picturesque town not far from Munich, attracted numerous artists from around the 1880s. In addition to Christian Morgenstern, Fritz von Uhde, Count Leopold von Kalckreuth and Carl Spitzweg, who stayed there to study, the town became a heavily frequented artists' colony and, under the influence of Plainair painting modeled on the Impressionists, was even called "the German Barbizon" (Fritz von Ostini). Characteristic of the Dachau School was the turn to a realistic depiction of nature in contrast to classically exaggerated landscape compositions. Hölzel, too, was inspired by the idyllic Dachau to produce small-format oil sketches in which he captured the landscape features, for example the high moor with its peculiar vegetation, the old trees, the light-colored gravel pits, or the brown peat stitches. This early creative period of Hölzel's had already begun after the mid-1880s, in which, under the influence of French open-air painting, he reproduced immediate impressions of nature in his city views or landscapes with loose brushstrokes. The 1904 painting "Dachau" is an impressive example of Hölzel's early artistic phase, which was still influenced by Impressionism. This rural scene shows through his spirited, almost vehement handwriting Hölzel's individual treatment of nature depictions, in which he pushes back the representational in favor of the full development of color values. By breaking up the dark, loosely placed and thickly applied earth colors, the variously graded shades of blue create extremely sensuous color accents. Figurative
and representational elements are only hinted at, so that the painting "Dachau" is a pure landscape painting, a group of works that appears in Hölzel's oeuvre from about 1903. There are now also no more people, not even as staffage figures. Although the painting was executed rather sketchily, the railroad bridge over the Amper River and the Dachau village backdrop can be recognized, as can be seen in more naturalistic paintings of this period with the same detail.
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