Photo credit: Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage
Are the hills in the distance in Scotland [more likely perhaps] or England?
This discussion is now closed. We have added a note that this is a slightly romanticised view of a stretch of the River Eden, probably between Armathwaite and Lazonby, and that the distant high ground is the western side of the North Pennines.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.
As per the attached, this lad got around.
Apologies, the attachment should read Edmund John and not Edmund Joseph.
As, per the attached map, the River Eden meanders gently south east to north west before it reaches Carlisle, so does this river, judging by the weir shown in the painting. The scene, therefore, must have been painted just after sunrise, and so the hills would be to the east, and so possibly what is shown is a stretch of the North Pennines.
I agree with Kieran Owens. The shapes of the hills are not typically Scottish, but closely resemble the North Pennines. I would suggest the picture is of the fells around Forest Head or Cold Fell. The scene may have been painted near Warwick Bridge, there is still a small weir just to the south today, or a little further south near Aramthwaite, where there is a handy train station.
Or could this be a scene in Italy or southern Europe? Even allowing for the artist's tendency to romanticise any scene he painted, this landscape looks neither Scottish or English.
Just below the right hand hills there appears to be a horizontal lighter-coloured band that could represent a distant lake or estuary, if so this would exclude locations on the River Eden.
Is there any evidence that Niemann painted Italian subjects?
Niemann showed an 'Italian Landscape' at the British Institution in 1862 (no.139, priced at 30 guineas). This was the only Italian subject among his exhibits at the RA, BI and SBA in London and (up to 1867) at the Liverpool institutions. Moreover there were no other non-British landscape subjects apart from two Rhineland views -- at the SBA in 1856 and 1857.
Could it be his painting no. 84 in the exhibition of the Society of British Artists as reported in the London Evening Standard of March 23, 1857? It depicted the "Valley of the Rhine" and the description seems to match this work.
Sotheby’s sold “A Mediterranean river capriccio” in 2019 (attached). But the trees in our landscape are different.
Since his father was German, it is conceivable that Niemann visited Germany and in fact his 1857 exhibit was catalogued as'Recollections of the Rhine' (no.84, priced at £84). For the sake of completeness, the 1856 exhibit was catalogued as 'The Rheinfels, looking towards Thurn-berg' (no.419, priced at £105). (Info from Jane Johnson's compilation of SBA/RSBA exhibits)
However I think it likely that Niemann did not actually visit Italy, in which case any Italian subjects by him would be inventions. Our picture could possibly fall into this category and even be a candidate for identification as the 1862 BI exhibit.
Perhaps the donor information can be updated to include her full name - Mrs. Maria Christian Cartwright. I suspect her maiden name was Wright. And, this is shown as a “gift” but was it in fact a bequest?
In 1857, ‘ Recollections of the Rhine' was described as “rather “misty”” in ‘The Illustrated London News’. https://tinyurl.com/4pz5w6w6
This extract from the ‘Northern Weekly Gazette’ of November 18, 1876, mentions a castle in ‘Recollections of the Rhine' and I do see one in the Art UK work. Here, too, is an auction listing.
It does not look like the usual representation of the Rhine; that is, a large navigable river between mountainous land immediately on either side. This is a shallow one with a rocky overfall centre right, running between low bluffs and with high land very distant. The group of three figures at centre, on the far bank (two men and possibly a woman between) gives the general scale. The dark upright mark on the green spit above left of the overfall/rapid may be a fourth man fishing.
Here is a composite based on this work and ‘View on the River Eden, Near Carlisle’ by Robert Carlyle, Sr., 1792. https://tinyurl.com/329dw75a
It doesn’t show the same view but the hills are quite similar.
The artist sometimes painted a capriccio or invention, it seems. We should not necessarily expect our landscape to be a depiction of a particular place.
If it is ‘On the Eden, near Carlisle’, it was no. 3 at the British Institution in 1858, not no. 1.https://tinyurl.com/2p9x4r8y. Curiously, the title was shown as 'View on the Eden, near Carlisle' in a review of that exhibition in the 'Journal of Belles Lettres, Science, and Art'. https://tinyurl.com/3c8zfccb
If is of the Eden it must be looking West towards the Solway Firth with the start of the Lake District hills on the left, but surely the Solway should be quite a bit closer
‘The Art Journal’ called Niemann’s work ‘On the Eden, near Carlisle’ in 1858. https://tinyurl.com/2p8duknh. It stated: “This view, which presents the river in the nearest section, is taken some distance from Carlisle, and shows in the distance the Cumberland hills.”
Even allowing for Niemann's romanticising tendencies, this river can hardly be the Eden. No British river matches this view. The river is either continental or imaginary.
That suggests that it is our picture
The website 'Visit Cumbria' has an image that reminds me of this painting. https://www.visitcumbria.com/evnp/rivereden/
Whatever the differing opinions on topographical or geographical accuracy, the collection's existing title for the picture is the same as that shown at the BI in 1858 (as it is clearly already aware if the line under 'More information' comes from there). All one really needs to know is whether it was presented under that title in 1887: if it was then it is most probably that picture, not of somewhere else that the collection has subsequently misidentified.
I like Pieter's approach. The picture was indeed described as 'On the Eden, near Carlisle’ when it was bequeathed (rather than given) by Mrs Cartwright, according to The Magazine of Art, vol. 11, 1888, p. 66 (available on Google books). So despite the fantasy in which Niemann has indulged, the title should be retained.
Marcie's post (1 February) suggests that the Cumbrian hills are depicted.
Being local, I am comfortable that this is a (only slightly) romanticised view of the Eden between Armathwaite and Lazonby, a stretch that was popular with artists. The western face of the North Pennines (Cold Fell, etc) is rendered a bit more rugged than it is in reality.
I am fairly familiar with that part of the country and am happy, with Humphrey Welfare, to support and recommend the retention of the existing title.
Perhaps add to 'More Information' that its 'a slightly romanticised view of a strretch then popular with artists between Armathwaite and Lazonby. The distant high ground is the western side of the North Pennines.' - or similar?? It prevents the question of exactly where arising again.
Andrew, I have emailed the Collection with your Group leader recommendation, and your suggested amendment Pieter. Regards, David
This reminds me of the view towards the Malvern Hills from Worcester, across the River Severn
Such decorative landscapes can remind one of quite a lot of places but in this case the apparent documented history and title of the canvas coincide with local knowledge of the area to suggest the identification is correct (allowing a little romanticization by the artist).
This discussion is well overdue for formal closure on that basis as recommended by Andrew this time last year.
Thank you. Pieter. I am anxious to close this on the basis that the existing title is the correct one. A note could be added to the effect that this is 'A slightly romanticised view of a stretch of the River Eden, probably between Armathwaite and Lazonby then popular with artists. The distant high ground is the western side of the North Pennines.'