Carl Rottmann

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Carl Rottmann, on a contemporary copper engraving

Carl Anton Joseph Rottmann (born January 11, 1797 in Handschuhsheim , † July 7, 1850 in Munich ) was a German landscape painter and the most famous representative of the Rottmann family of painters (between around 1770 and 1880).

Rottmann belonged to the circle of artists around the Bavarian King Ludwig I and was exclusively commissioned by him to create large-format landscape paintings. He is known for mythical - heroic landscape painting. The Greece cycle is considered his main work.

The landscape painters Karl Lindemann-Frommel , Karl Ludwig Seeger and August Löffler were among his students .


Grave of Carl Rottmann on the old southern cemetery in Munich location

Carl Anton Joseph Rottmann was born on January 11, 1797 in what is now the Heidelberg district of Handschuhsheim. There he received his first drawing lessons from his father, Friedrich Rottmann , who taught drawing at the University of Heidelberg , and there he painted atmospheric phenomena in his first (artistic) period.

In 1821 he moved to Munich, where his second period began. In 1824 he married Friedericke Sckell, the daughter of his uncle Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell , who served there as director of the court garden. This opened his acquaintance with King Ludwig I, who made it possible for him to travel to Italy in 1826/1827 in order to expand his repertoire of motifs, which until then had consisted of native landscapes. After his return, the king commissioned him to create a cycle of monumental Italian landscapes in the arcades of the Munich court garden . The cycle, completed in 1833 with 28 murals and executed in fresco technique , gave visible expression to Ludwig I's connection with Italy and raised landscape painting as a genre to the level of history painting, to which the king's other major commissions in the field of monumental painting were. The king wrote a self-composed distich for each .

In 1834 Rottmann was commissioned by the king to write a second cycle, now dedicated to the landscapes of Greece , which can be described as his third period. Originally also intended for the Hofgarten arcades, the 23 large landscape paintings were finally displayed in the newly built Neue Pinakothek , where they were assigned their own hall. In 1841 he was appointed court painter by the king .


Rottmann died in Munich on July 7, 1850 at the age of 53. The grave of Carl Rottmann is in the Old Southern Cemetery in Munich (Grave field 6 - row 7 - place 33/34) location .


His younger brother Leopold Rottmann was tutored by him.

Early work

Heidelberg Castle, 1815

A large-format watercolor from 1815, which shows the Heidelberg castle ruins , seen from the east, in a spacious landscape composition ( Kurpfälzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg ), is an important example from Carl Rottmann's early work and is generally considered to be one of the first truly independent achievements of the young artist after his early student work. It already reveals an excellent mastery of the watercolor technique, great security in the compositional structure of the broad landscape and an increased interest in light phenomena.

Rottmann's early work is in the tradition of the composition schemes that developed from the heyday of Dutch landscape painting to the ideally transfigured landscapes of the French painter Claude Lorrain .

The view from the east of the castle and the city of Heidelberg with the naturally given polarization of narrowness and expanse, near and far view as well as the atmospherically transfigured contours in the evening light was one of the most popular motifs of romantic mood painting. From this point of view in particular, the artists had an optimal view of the - as they saw it - example of an ideal landscape created by nature.

The influence of the atmospheric paintings by the English landscape painter George Augustus Wallis (1761–1847), who stayed in Heidelberg from 1812 to 1816, is also noticeable in the representation of the evening backlit situation . Wallis was in close artistic contact with the three young Heidelberg painters Carl Rottmann, Karl Philipp Fohr and Ernst Fries , whom Karl Lohmeyer later referred to as the "triumvirate of romantic painting in Heidelberg". His works exerted a strong influence on the early work of the young artists in particular and strengthened their interest in the representation of particularly atmospheric light impressions, the intensive preoccupation with color and light phenomena.

Greece cycle


Corfu, 1837
Aegina, 1841
Delos Island, 1847
Battlefield at Marathon, 1849

In 1830–33 Rottmann painted 28 frescoes of landscapes and places in Italy ( “Prospects in the Fatherland of the Arts” ) for the western arcades of the Munich court garden . Soon after the installation of his son Otto as King of Greece (1833), Ludwig I decided to continue the painting of the Hofgarten arcades with a cycle of Greek landscapes from locations from classical Greek history . The cycle served a political apologetics : it was intended to arouse understanding among contemporaries, especially the Bavarian political class, for Ludwig's enthusiasm for Greece, the cradle of classical education . Especially in the light of the liberation of Greece from four hundred years of Ottoman rule , which had taken place shortly before (1827), the cycle was intended to attract sympathy for Bavarian involvement in the construction of the new Greek state, which entailed high financial burdens.

Greece trip

In preparation for the cycle, Rottmann undertook a twelve-month study trip through Greece from 1834–1835, where he collected material for his later landscape paintings in drawings and watercolors. He repeatedly complained in letters about the conditions of the trip. The main stops on the trip were Nauplia , Corinth and Athens . From Nauplia, Rottmann visited Tiryns , Mycenae and Nemea . From Athens he traveled to the Peloponnese ( Sparta ), Boeotia ( Thebes ), Chalkis on Evia and the islands of Delos and Naxos . He did not visit some of the planned stops on his journey and, when presenting them, resorted to views of Otto Magnus von Stackelberg , a traveler to Greece . Rottmann was accompanied by the architect and landscape draftsman Ludwig Lange .

The land that Rottmann found had fallen into disrepair due to foreign rule and was marked by the clashes of the six and a half year struggle for liberation. The ruins of ancient architecture and the war-related destruction stood in stark contrast to the idealized antiquity that Ludwig I and other contemporaries cultivated. Rottmann drew an arcadia full of idyllic landscapes in the sense of romanticism . Reinhold Baumstark describes the depiction in Rottmann's 1999 landscapes as follows:

... nothing less than an educational journey of the eyes, a contemplation of historical greatness in front of the scenes of a grandiose barren nature surrounded by sea and sky. ... a romantic, melancholy memorial that he erects on ancient Greece by depicting the new Hellas as an abandoned stage of world history exposed to the primordial forces of nature. "

Work process

Returning to Munich (1835), Rottmann developed composition sketches and watercolors for 23 wall paintings from the studies of nature he had done on site . The latter were made in the years 1838–50. Rottmann executed most of the landscapes in oil paintings modified with resins and wax . This was not applied to the plastered wall , as was customary at the time , but rather to transportable mortar plates , each weighing around 400 kilograms . There is an earlier version of the first picture Sikyon with Corinth (around 1836), which Ludwig I acquired from the collection of Leo von Klenze. In 1836, Rottmann employed the painter Eduard Wilhelm Pose as an assistant for the execution of the landscapes .

For his nature studies, Rottmann had often chosen wide views over the landscape, in which the melancholy, transfigured gaze fell on striking shapes. Rottmann worked out the characteristic features of the landscape, heightened them and gave them a monumental appearance. Mountains and ridges appeared more powerful in the paintings than in reality. Meteorological phenomena, such as rainbows and thunderstorm moods , increased the variety of motifs and enhanced the message of the picture. The representation follows an idea of ​​the eternal cycle of nature, as described by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling in his work fragment Die Weltalter 1811/14.

Rottmann staged the landscapes as independent witnesses to great historical events. Rottmann renounced common means of historicization, such as personification and allegorization . This enabled Rottmann to give the genre of landscape painting a similarly high reputation in Germany as the genre of history painting had previously enjoyed.


When Rottmann died in 1850 a few weeks after completing the last picture of the Greece cycle, he was the most admired German landscape painter. As a visible sign of his appreciation, he was the only artist to have his own room in the Neue Pinakothek, which opened in 1853. The hall named after Rottmann was located on the west side of the building and was the largest in the museum at 26.5 meters wide and 14.5 meters deep. It was dedicated exclusively to Rottmann's Greece cycle, the main work of the Pinakothek.

Rottmann Hall in the Neue Pinakothek, Munich (model)

The Rottmann Hall formed the end and at the same time the highlight of the tour through the Neue Pinakothek. The picture panels were set into the walls and framed with gilded strips. To reinforce Rottmann's dramatic landscape staging, a unique lighting concept was implemented in the Rottmann Hall : the skylight was shielded by a column-supported installation so that it only fell on the pictures on the walls. This increased the luminosity of the colors and offered the viewer in the middle of the room the illusion of a view of the landscapes.

Ninety-one years later, on April 25, 1944, the upper exhibition halls of the Neue Pinakothek, including the Rottmann Hall, were destroyed by fire bombs in an air raid . Because of their heavy weight, Rottmann's painting panels were not brought to safety outside the city like other paintings, but were instead stored in the cellar of the Neue Pinakothek. Several paintings suffered major damage, including a burst water pipe.

On the occasion of their 150th anniversary in 2003, a new Rottmann Hall was set up in the Neue Pinakothek (new building in 1981) . Since then, 21 of the original 23 paintings from the Greece cycle (14 of them restored) have been presented in a contemporary form.


  • Wertheim am Main (Hamburg, Kunsthalle), 1822, oil on canvas, 32 × 48 cm
  • Inntal bei Neubüsten (Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum), 1823, oil on canvas, 32 × 46 cm
  • The Zugspitze , 1825
  • 28 Italian landscapes (Munich, Hofgartenarkaden ; today: Residenzmuseum ), 1830–33, fresco technique.
  • Olympia (Vienna, Austrian Gallery), 1836, oil on cardboard
  • 23 Greek landscapes (Munich, Neue Pinakothek ), 1838–50, the first in the ancient painting technique of encaustic , from 1841 in a separate mixture of drying oils, dammar (a natural resin) and beeswax .
  • The island of Delos (Karlsruhe, Kunsthalle), 1847, oil on cardboard, 35.5 × 45.5 cm
  • Battlefield of Marathon , ( Alte Nationalgalerie , Berlin), 1849, oil on canvas, 91 × 90.5 cm
  • Landscape paintings with motifs mainly in the Berchtesgadener Land and in the Inn Valley near Brannenburg . The paintings of Watzmann , Hohen Göll and Hintersee near Ramsau are well known .


In chronological order:

  • Hyacinth Holland , Karl ObserRottmann, Karl . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 29, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1889, pp. 395-399.
  • Karl Lohmeyer : Heidelberg painter of the Romantic period. Heidelberg 1935. pp. 231-310.
  • Erika Bierhaus-Rödiger: Carl Rottmann 1797–1850. Monograph and critical catalog of works. With contributions by H. Decker and Barbara Eschenburg. Prestel, Munich 1978, ISBN 9783791304175 .
  • Annette Frese: Carl Rottmann (1797–1850) - On the 200th birthday of the landscape painter (= picture books of the Kurpfälzisches Museum of Heidelberg. Issue 5). Heidelberg 1997.
  • Christoph Heilmann , Erika Rödiger-Diruf (ed.): Landscape as a story - Carl Rottmann 1797-1850. Court painter of King Ludwig I. Catalog for the exhibitions in the Kurpfälzisches Museum Heidelberg November 16, 1997 - January 18, 1998 and the art gallery of the Hypo-Kulturstiftung Munich January 30 - April 13, 1998. Hirmer, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-7774-7740 -0 .
  • Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Ed.): Neue Pinakothek. Catalog of paintings and sculptures. DuMont, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-8321-7349-8 , pp. 320–333.
  • Andrea Tietze:  Rottmann, Carl Anton Joseph. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 22, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-428-11203-2 , pp. 144 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Herbert W. Rott, Renate Poggendorf, Elisabeth Stürmer, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Eds.): Carl Rottmann. The landscapes of Greece. Catalog for the exhibition “Ten tons of Hellas. Carl Rottmanns Greece Cycle ”, Neue Pinakothek Munich, January 25 - April 29, 2007. Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern 2007, ISBN 978-3-7757-1843-1 .

Web links

Commons : Carl Rottmann  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Born in Merton (Surrey) in 1761 , died in Florence in 1847 ; see Monika von Wild: George Augustus Wallis (1761 - 1847), English landscape painter. Monograph and oeuvre catalog. Lang, Frankfurt / M. 1996, ISBN 3-631-49108-5 .
  2. quoted from: Ekaterini Kepetzis: Review by: Herbert W. Rott / Renate Poggendorf / Elisabeth Stürmer: Carl Rottmann. The landscapes of Greece, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz 2007, in: sehepunkte 8 (2008), No. 1. S. 8f. Retrieved December 12, 2018 .
  3. The Rottmann Hall formed the counterpart to the Rubens Hall of the Alte Pinakothek . - The originally planned hanging of the cycle in the northern court garden arcades was abandoned in 1841 because of the outstanding artistic and painterly quality and the risk of willful destruction ( vandalism ).
  4. Nine or eight (entrance wall) were placed on the two long walls and three pictures on each of the two narrow sides. Clockwise these were: Athens , Eleusis , Thebes , Tiryns , Sikyon with Parnassus , Sikyon with Corinth , Salamis , Olympia , Sparta plain, Sparta with the Taygetus , Delos , Aulis , Epidauros , Marathon , Poros , Aegina , Chalkis , Naxos , Kopaïs - Lake, Pronia , Corinth , Mycenae and Nemea .