1812 — Copenhagen — 1880

Lake Garda

oil on paper over preliminary pencil sketch, laid down to cardboard. 20.5 x 31.5 cm.

most likely the artist's family until the 21st century

Mona Christensen and Jan Faye, A catalogue Raisonne of the Works of Vilhelm Petersen, city and date of publication? cat. no. ?

Petersen stayed in Riva del Garda, on the north shore, from October 29th to November 6th, 1851.
Beautifully painted, this serene lake view relates very well to several oil sketches by the artist, all smaller, presently at the Metropolitan Museum, gifted to it and the Morgan Library by Eugene Thaw in 2009. Despite the fact that the Thaw oil sketches depict lake or river views in a different country, the atmosphere is the same, likely a result of the artist's temperment which led him to select similar days for working en plein air in various places. They are all from 1850.

Unfortunately, not much has been written of which I am aware about this evocative artist. He travelled to Rome where there was a Danish colony of painters and from them might well have learned about plein air painting. These were some of the painters whose talents and achievements are celebrated as the Danish Golden Age. Like many of them, Petersen is known for his landscape paintings; his work can be found primarily in the Statens Museum fur Kunst in Copenhagen. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge conserves an oil on paper dated 1857.1 The National Gallery in London has another dated 1850 which is entitled Oetzthal, inv. NG6662. The latter is atop a mountainous area with some snow. Galerie Jean-Francois Heim exhibited a good number of such oil sketches by Petersen at its Paris Galerie and at Maastricht in 2002. These were said to have been purchased from the the artist's family by that same date.

In cataloguing the Thaw oil sketches Ann Hoenigswald2, discusses Petersen's technique and compares it to that of Alexandre Calame. I'm not sure why she does because Danish painters such as Eckersberg and Hansen were likely far more influential.

Petersen was in Italy from 1850-52. And, as stated above, he was in the Lake Garda area in the fall of 1851.




Manipulating Paint: The Shorthand of Plein-Air Technique." Studying Nature: Oil Sketches from the Thaw Collection, Ed. Jennifer Tonkovich. New York, 2011, p. 19.