View in the Alps
1825 by Ernst Ferdinand Oehme
A Dialogue with Nature; Romantic Landscapes from Britain and Germany, The Courtauld Gallery, with The Morgan Library & Museum.
The Courthauld’s A Dialogue with Nature is a quietly potent exhibition; its small works continuing to meditate upon beauty, long after their philosophers have died. An array of watercolours and drawings turn our gaze to the Romantic notion of landscape, with nature so delicately drawn she exudes an ethereal sigh. This breath of wonder sweeps through the exhibition, caught and carried in the exquisite detail of the landscapes and their jewel-like treatment of colour. The concentration of every element is poignant; a cluster of works in the middle of the exhibition concentrate only on the formation of clouds – ink washes and coloured paper perfectly capturing their weightless magic. Indeed, it seems almost a mystic coincidence that both British and German artists were captured by clouds, transfixed by the skies at the same moment in time. This joyful realisation embodies the treatment of the British and German artworks throughout the exhibition; neither are singled out, but left to harmoniously converse in their melodious interpretations of differing landscapes. Ernst Ferdinand Oehme painted alongside Caspar David Friedrich, a pioneer of early German Romanticism (Friedrich is also in the exhibition). View in the Alps is pregnant with the air of mysticism; the hills glowing with a green so lush, their tops roll with vitality. Colour fades and grows as a drawing breath, shadowy purples and deep emerald eclipsed by the radiant white of the mountain tops. The celebration of nature and its beauty is jubilant, singing of infinite possibilities and leaving us on a high that remains long after we have left the exhibition.