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Eduard Wilhelm Pose

* 1812 – † 1878

Campagna Romagna with Aqueduct

Oil on canvas

Signed at bottom rigght: E. W. Pose

Campagna Romagna with Aqueduct

By no means the least of those to erect a monument to the Campagna Romana1 was Tischbein with his famous portrait of Goethe.2 The Campagna was a popular motif in nineteenthcentury landscape painting, almost becoming a subgenre in its own right, especially among the Romantics and their followers. Vast tracts of land in which humans dwindle to miniscule proportions, occasionally dotted with the relic of some long lost empire, and with nature in the form of changeable weather phenomena a powerful, brooding presence, were very much of a piece with the Romantics’ idealized worldview. One example among many is Carl Blechen’s Unwetter in der Campagna (Storm in the Campagna),3 to which Pose’s work, with its similarly elongated landscape format, seems to allude. With the silhouetted Sabine Hills under a towering sky as backdrop, Pose unfurls an impressive panorama. Situated in the middle ground are the ruins of the Aqua Claudia, Rome’s ancient water supply,4 whose miniature scale gives viewers a vivid sense of the sheer boundlessness of the landscape in which they stand. The dark, low-hanging clouds and curtains of rain at right signal the approach of bad weather. While there are mighty cumulonimbi billowing up into the sky above the mountains in the distance, too, they still leave sufficient space for the sun’s warm light to shine through. A shepherd is driving his flock to safety from the impending thunderstorm, and we are again struck by how tiny the sheep are compared with the space around them. Pose shows a natural world that is shaped by the weather and the humans that pass through it, but that is so vast and so monumental that it inevitably dwarfs even the most impressive feats of human engineering. Pose almost certainly painted this through-composed work after his return from Italy in his studio in Frankfurt after studies made in situ. That he was fond of the Campagna Romana as a subject is evident from examples of his work in the Städel5 and the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf.6 Both those works seem to be related to our canvas, even if the former is probably a direct study, whereas the latter is dated 1855. Being similar in both composition and mood, they prove that Pose must have drawn inspiration from Schirmer,7 Lessing, and even Rottmann.

  1. The Campagna Romana is the area of low-lying countryside around Rome, sandwiched between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apennines.

  2. Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, Goethe in der Campagna (1786/87; Städel Frankfurt a. M., inv. no. 1157).

  3. Carl Blechen, Unwetter in der römischen Campagna (1829, Nationalgalerie Berlin, inv. no. GK I 30145).

  4. The Aqua Claudia was built under Emperor Caligula in 38 A.D.

  5. E. W. Pose, Campagnalandschaft mit Ruinen römischer Aquädukte (Campagna Landscape with the Ruins of Roman Aqueducts) (Städel Frankfurt a. M., inv. no. SG 236). Mareike Hennig believes this work to be a study for our painting, cf. Romantik im Rhein-Main-Gebiet, exh. cat. Museum Giersch Frankfurt a. M. 2015, Petersberg 2005, p. 254.

  6. E. W. Pose, Campagna bei Torre di Quinto (Campagna at Torre di Quinto)

  7. Cf. Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, Heranziehendes Gewitter in der römischen Campagna (Approaching Thunderstorm in the Campagna Romana) (undated, Leopold-Hösch-Museum Düren, inv. no. 1948/330).

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