Carl Wilhelm Götzloff
(Dresden 1799 - 1866 Naples)
View from the Grotto at the Monastery of San Francesco, Amalfi, 1830
Oil on canvas, 39 x 57 cm
Signed and dated lower left C. Götzloff. 1830
Private collection, Germany;
Munich, Sotheby’s, auction sale, June 22, 1993, lot 37;
private collection, Germany.
Ernst Alfred Lentes, Carl Wilhelm Götzloff. Ein Dresdner Romantiker mit neapolitanischer Heimat, Monographie mit Werkverzeichnis der Gemälde, Stuttgart/Zurich 1996, p. 151, no. 31;
Alexander Bastek and Markus Bertsch (eds.), Carl Wilhelm Götzloff (1799-1866): Ein Dresdner Landschaftsmaler am Golf von Neapel, exhib. cat., Lübeck, Museum Behnhaus Drägerhaus and Mittelrhein-Museum Koblenz, Petersberg 2014, p. 225, no. 31 (containing a catalogue raisonné of the paintings)
Carl Wilhelm Götzloff first visited Naples and the surrounding region in the summer of 1823. He was on a study tour with two friends, Johann Joachim Faber and Heinrich Reinhold, both fellow artists. They were to discover rich sources of painterly motifs in the landscapes of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.1 The rugged Amalfi coastline with its hidden grottos and the Capuchin monastery of San Francesco were already established popular destinations for artists of the period. The first painter to be attracted by the view of the monastery as seen from the grotto and to choose it as a landscape subject was almost certainly Franz Ludwig Catel (1778-1856). He visited the area in 1820. His painting of that date triggered a proliferation of interpretations of the subject and the view went on to attract enormous interest from other artists. A plethora of painters, among them Reinhold, Faber, Carl Morgenstern, Johann Heinrich Schilbach and Ludwig Richter – who were in close contact with Götzloff and Catel – would go on to depict this motif until the collapse of the grotto towards the end of the nineteenth century.2
The grotto first appears in Götzloff’s painting in 1828 – it is probable that he restricted himself to producing drawings on his first trip to Amalfi in 1823. A first version of the present motif in oil is now in the collection of the Galerie Neue Meister in Dresden (inv. 2990). The only differences between the two works are their format and a number of slight variations in the detail. The present version dates from 1830, when Götzloff was beginning to establish an independent reputation in Naples. The focal point of the present image is a radiant, early evening view of the monastery of San Francesco, the small town of Amalfi and its rugged coastline framed by the dark, craggy mouth of the grotto.
Götzloff was one of the leading German exponents of a sensitive and naturalistic approach to landscape painting working in Italy in the early nineteenth century. After completing his studies at the Dresden Academy he traveled to Italy in 1821. He had been granted a bursary which took him first to Rome and then, in 1823, on an extensive study and walking tour to Naples, Capri, Amalfi, Castellamare, Sorrento and Sicily. He settled in Naples in 1824. Between 1835 and 1838 he was employed as official court painter to Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies (1810-59). In 1835 he had already been appointed a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden. He and his wife Louisa Chentrens entertained regularly at Number 71, Riviera di Chiaia. They were an open-minded, hospitable couple and welcomed a large number of visiting artists and collectors. Among their many friends and contacts in cultural circles were important artists like Joseph Anton Koch, Carl Gustav Carus and Carl Blechen, to name just a few of the like-minded German artists drawn to Italy. The lively exchange of ideas provided fertile ground for Götzloff’s painting. In 1846-7 important commissions for the Prussian monarch and the Tsarina of Russia, Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860) followed. In 1848 he fled to Sorrento3 to escape political unrest, remaining there for two years. His later career was shaped by the general political instability of the time.
1 Markus Bertsch, ‘Im Zeichen künstlerischen Austauschs. Carl Wilhelm Götzloffs Anfänge in Dresden und seine ersten Jahre in Italien’, in Alexander Bastek and Markus Bertsch (eds.), Carl Wilhelm Götzloff (1799-1866): Ein Dresdner Landschaftsmaler am Golf von Neapel, exhib. cat., Lübeck, Museum Behnhaus Drägerhaus and Mittelrhein-Museum Koblenz, Petersberg 2014, p. 19 (containing a catalogue raisonné of the paintings).
2 Andreas Stolzenburg, ‘Franz Ludwig Catel als künstlerisches und ökonomisches Vorbild für Götzloffs Entwicklung als Landschafts- und Genremaler in Neapel’, in Götzloff, op. cit., pp. 48-50.
3 See Ernst-Alfred Lentes, Carl Wilhelm Götzloff. Ein Dresdner Romantiker mit neapolitanischer Heimat, Stuttgart and Zurich 1996.