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Anton Radl

* 1774 – † 1852


Watercolour and gouache on cardboard

Signed at bottom right: A Radl

“Most estimable watercolour drawings … of areas around Frankfurt and the beautiful valleys of the Taunus Mountains,” wrote Johann Wolfgang von Goethe of the works of Anton Radl, observing that “although drawn after nature, in choice of object, the artful allocation of light and shade, and colour, [they] leave nothing to be desired.”1 This quotation by the famous German poet captures the moment when painters began breaking away from the classical ideals of the eighteenth-century landscape tradition of Claude Lorrain (1600 - 1682) and moving towards a more realistic style of representation. Those were also the two poles between which Anton Radl found his idiom. Having been apprenticed to the famous Frankfurt engraver, Johann Gottlieb Prestel (1739–1808), Radl was well versed in the prevailing ideas of the age. His painting expeditions into the surrounding countryside undertaken around the same time, however, led him to develop a more veduta-like, and hence more naturalistic style.2 This is reflected in this view of Falkenstein. Looking northward out of the valley, it shows the distinctive ruins of Burg Falkenstein on its hilltop perch. As realistically reproduced as the picturesque motif of the castle and the topography is, the enhancement of nature by the inventive hand of the artist described by Goethe is also clearly apparent. The orderly composition is clearly the work of an artist familiar with the principles of the English-style landscaped garden, as is evident from his careful positioning of the trees and the staffage – the grazing cattle included as an animating element. As one of the first artists to discover the Taunus Mountains, Anton Radl devoted numerous paintings to the subject.

  1. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Über Kunst und Altertum in den Rhein Main Gegenden, Stuttgart 1816, after the edition Frankfurt am Main 1942, p. 56.

  2. Anton Radl 1774–1852 Maler und Kupferstecher, exh. cat. Museum Giersch Frankfurt am Main 2008, Petersberg 2008, p. 7.

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