Historic Painting: “View of Mont Blanc” by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1813.

view of mont blanc by schinkel 1813 pd

This stunning landscape reminded me instantly of various other Romanticist landscapes I’ve featured on this blog, such as Bridal Party by Gude and Tidemand or Frederic Edwin Church’s Chimborazo. This picture, titled Blick auf den Mont Blanc (“View of Mont Blanc”), dates from considerably earlier, 1813. It was painted by the Prussian Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who curiously is known more for his architecture and urban planning than his painting, though as you can plainly see he was a gifted artist. In the years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, not long after this was painted, Schinkel headed a city planning commission to reorganize and beautify the city of Berlin, which until then was pretty unremarkable. Thus, much of the look of Berlin as it developed since the early 19th century is Schinkel’s doing.

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe outside of the Caucasus, and is the pinnacle of the Alps Range. European artists have been going to Mont Blanc for inspiration for centuries. At the time of this painting, in 1813, the area of Mont Blanc was claimed by France, but it was later given to the Kingdom of Sardinia by the Congress of Vienna–possibly during one of the many wild dinner parties. The rustic buildings in this painting echo the houses and barns of Telemark, Norway, which inspired me to write my book The Valley of Forever. This kind of romantic European landscape never goes out of style.

This picture is in the public domain.

1 Comment

  1. Karl Friedrich Schinkel is among the greatest and most influential architects in the history of European architecture. And another wonderful painting by Schinkel is “View of the Flower of Greece,” 1836, which we know only from a copy at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Fittingly, that museum, originally called the Altes Museum, is by Schinkel and it is one of the great buildings of Western architecture. Badly damaged in the war and then locked behind the iron curtain in East Berlin for decadfes, it has only recently been fully restored. If you know nothing of Schinkel this is the one building most worth knowing about. All of Schinkel’s work: architecture, interiors, furniture and paintings is simply and unmistakably beautiful.

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