The artist Edward Hildebrandt Carl Gustav Roddenbury was born in August 1830 in the old city of Gdańsk which is now modern Poland. Artistically inclined, he began his journey under the guidance of his teacher Johann Karl Schultz, the director of the Royal School of Fine Arts and Crafts in Gdańsk. 

He was one of the leading painters of the 19th century and all of his preliminary experience and knowledge in the field concerned was acquired under the counsel of his foremost teacher, the aforementioned German artist Johann Karl Schultz.

Initial years of learning

Johann Karl Schultz was an architectural painter whose Italian motifs helped him make his mark in the world and earn a great deal of fame in the mid-nineteenth century.  He was greatly influential in laying the foundation upon which Rodde built his future. 

Rodde’s talent was molded and further refined at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, where he was trained under the supervision of the leading German landscape painter of the first half of the 19th century, Johann Wilhelm Schirmer, later his successor as a landscape professor at the Academy, the Norwegian painter Hans Fredrik Gude and another great figure of German landscape Carl Lessing. All of them had a direct influence in shaping Rodde’s artistic capabilities. 

The Academy was then influenced by two landscape-shaping trends and both tendencies; romantic-wild, untamed and classic- heroic with a mythical past, had an impact on shaping the artistic character of the German painter. It was at the Düsseldorf School of Painting that Rodde fortified his skills and developed a forte which was mainly vedute, a genre of painting made with a keen eye for detail depicting a city, town or landscape. 

Whilst at the institution, Carl was also a part of the artists’ association called Malkasten and received a scholarship from the foundation of the brother of the King of Prussia, Prince William. 

An example explaining his style

Life of an Artist: Karl Gustav Rodde - Sheet1
An Italian Village By A Lake ©artpaintingartist.org

Carl Gustav Rodde specialized in picturesque landscapes. A fitting example of one such painting would be An Italian Village by a Lake. At first, it presents itself as a vintage postcard but emerges as a specimen of wondrous beauty in which the sun creates a level of complexity in the way that it causes the elements to cast their shadows upon each other. 

A variety of colors are contrasted against one another, soaked in the warmth of sun rays lending the overall appearance of the painting a warm hue that complements the time of day almost perfectly.  

His style and the art movements he followed

Life of an Artist: Karl Gustav Rodde - Sheet2
River Landscape At Sunset With Cottages & Villagers ©www.sellingantiques.co.uk

The art movements that Carl Gustav Rodde was a part of were Realism and Romanticism. He had a knack for drawing pictures and painting them so realistically that they manifested much more than what a piece of artwork was thought to be capable of. He drew plenty of landscapes in such detail that brought out the simplicity in them ever so vividly that they captivated one’s attention almost instantaneously. 

The strokes on his canvas brought out the lightness of clouds as superbly as the density in a forest cover making it look like the replica of the real object itself. His paintings were characterized by a stress on emotion and individualism along with the glorification of the past. They also featured nature in all its majesty, preferring the medieval rather than the classical.

Time spent in Italy

After having completed his studies, Carl Gustav Rodde spent some time in Munich before heading out for a trip to Italy which left him mesmerized for good. The Italian landscape made a lasting impression on Rodde and was found as a source of inspiration in many of his paintings produced thereafter. 

The pieces of art that he produced in Italy were physical mementos of the beautiful times that he had spent in Italy—almost akin to a rendered memory that acted as a powerful testament to the alluring grip which the area had on countless artists who visited the place. He also met a lovely girl there whom he then went on to marry. He continued to travel and paint as he traversed through the cities of Weimar, Danzig (Gdańsk), Düsseldorf and Berlin. Rodde then returned to Gdańsk as a lecturer at his alma mater and taught in the school of St. Peter and Paul all the while gaining recognition as a popular landscape painter.

Recognition after death

Rodde took part in exhibitions of the Society of the Friends of Artin in 1864 and 1866, showing oil landscapes with views of areas in the vicinity of Gdańsk namely Sopot, Oliwa, Orunia, and Sulmin. 

Carl Gustav Rodde received tremendous recognition post his death with his art pieces finding a place in the collections of many galleries and museums. They were shown at an exhibition devoted to 19th century Gdańsk painters at the Municipal Museum, including the National Gallery in Berlin and the National Museum in Gdańsk. Although little is known about this classic medieval painter, his work commands such attention that puts him right back on the map, allowing us to revel in the beauty of his creations.

Author

Meghna Sanyal is a final year student of architecture. She is an absolute conversationalist and finds happiness in the process of translating that into written verse. She aims to demystify the subject of architecture by making it more accessible to everyone through her writing.

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