Christian Friedrich Gille

We regularly collect exhibition catalogues and other works on major German artists but sometimes lesser-known artists are worthy of attention too. This post highlights the artistic work of Christian Friedrich Gille (1805-1899), a little-known German artist and is written in response to a recent new arrival in the UL, Christian Friedrich Gille, 1805-1899: malerische Entdeckung der Natur by Gerd Spitzer. This book is the first comprehensive monograph on him for almost 25 years and was published to accompany an exhibition held in Berlin and Basel of oil paintings by Gille in private collections. It contains many fine reproductions of Gille’s works, particularly his nature scenes.

Back in 1994 the first ever exhibition of Gille’s work was held in both Dresden and Bremen and we have a copy of the catalogue for that exhibition too: Christian Friedrich Gille, 1805-1899 also by Gerd Spitzer. This exhibition, just a short time after the reunification of Germany was an opportunity to bring together works that had been kept separate until then. A large number of Gille’s works had been in the collection of Johann Friedrich Lahmann and were dispersed between Bremen, his town of birth, and Dresden, his place of residence.

The earlier exhibition also acted as a springboard for new research into Gille’s work resulting in previously unknown works by him being discovered. At least 500 oil paintings have now been documented.

Gille studied at the Kunstakademie in Dresden and spent three years working in the studio of Johan Christian Dahl, a Norwegian artist based then in Dresden, often described as “the father of Norwegian landscape painting” and a friend of Caspar David Friedrich, perhaps the most important German Romantic landscape artist. Gille went on to spend the rest of his life in and around Dresden, and most of his paintings are of the city and surrounding countryside. The influence of Dahl and other artists such as Friedrich or Carl Gustav Carus can be seen in Gille’s depictions of the landscape that he was familiar with. During his lifetime he was largely unknown and went without notice but his evocations of the 19th century landscapes are of interest to the 21st century viewer and it is pleasing that he is now being recognised. The images in the slideshow below are in the public domain via Wikimedia Commons and give a flavour of his style. There are many more examples of his work in the two exhibition catalogues referred to above.

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Katharine Dicks

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