Old buildings in moonlight
Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857)

Old buildings in moonlight, 1843

Oil on canvas, H. 0.13 m; W. 0.19 m

Signed and dated 1843 l.l

Provenance: CJ.Loffler
Martin Grosell, Copenhagen
His sale at Winkel & Magnussen, Copenhagen, 9 June 1932, lot 95
Ms. Stangeberg, Copenhagen, 1937

Literature:
  • Johan H. Langaard, I.C, Dahl’s Verk,Oslo 1937, no. 712
  • Marie Ladrup Bang, Johan Christian Dahl, Life and Works. Oslo, 1987, vol.II, nos. 992A & 1300; & vol. III, p.422, illustrated (these entries, although distinct in Bang, both concern the present work)

Johan Christian Dahl had already completed his training as a landscape painter when he left his native Norway for Copenhagen in 1811 to enter the Copenhagen Academy of Fine Arts. A pupil of C. A. Lorentzen, his main interests lay in seventeenth-century Dutch landscape painting and in the study of Eckersberg’s views of Rome. In 1818, he set out on a Grand Tour. One of his stops was Dresden, where he moved in artistic circles and met the celebrated German painter Caspar David Friedrich. In the summer of 1820 he travelled to Rome and Naples, returning in 1821 to settle permanently in Dresden. From 1823 onwards he lived in the same house as C.D. Friedrich. He was one of three outstanding Dresden painters of the period – the others being C.D. Friedrich and Carl Gustav Carus. The three exerted a decisive influence on German Romantic painting.

Dahl became especially well-known for paintings of view with striking visual characteristics and an interesting, enveloping atmosphere. Cities and scenes bathed in moonlight – a subject of symbolic interest for many Northern Romantic painters – were of particular interest to Dahl, who was equally fascinated by the technical challenges of representing different elements seen and unified by the light of the moon.