Harbour scene in moonlight, 1891
Everything is in motion, as if captured in a snapshot: The moon illuminates the landing stage of this harbour scene, where a side-wheel steamer is just arriving. The mooring line has been handed over and is about to be laid over a bollard. On board, the Dutch flag is being taken down. On the left, behind it, a yacht-like sailing ship for news transmission can be seen. Behind the quay wall lies a larger sailing ship, but only a closer look reveals the stern and masts behind the veil of smoke and haze. Although the picture is painted almost exclusively in brown tones and haze blurs the contrasts, it conveys
a lively bustle to the viewer. The smoke rising from the chimney carries the dynamic into the background.
Andreas Achenbach is considered the most important German marine painter of the 19th century and was a formative figure of the Düsseldorf School of Painting. Already at a young age, he travelled through Holland with his father and found the opportunity to engage with the Dutch landscape. His early journeys were always also sea voyages and gave him the opportunity to experience the sea. Despite the dominance of the sea, the human being is always at the centre of his marine painting. Achenbach‘s works move between pathos and reality, expressing man‘s helplessness in the face of sublime nature. His long work opens up insights into the early industrial era and reflects the upheavals of the 19th century.