Beach view of waves and spray, 1870s
In Germany, marine painting was dominated until well into the 19th century by travel painters for whom the landscape was the main focus. The impetus for its development into an independent genre is to be found in the political environment, in particular through the promotion of maritime art by Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941). The future emperor‘s enthusiasm even goes so far that he takes painting lessons between 1880 and 1883 – with Carl Saltzmann.
Born in Berlin, he moves to Düsseldorf in 1872 to educate himself among the artists at the Düsseldorf School of Painting. His first major painting is acquired by Kaiser Wilhelm I (1797-1888). After Wilhelm II‘s accession to power, he is a regular guest on his sea voyages and, thanks to many years of imperial support, becomes professor of marine painting at the Berlin Academy in Saltzmann‘s artistic work is largely shaped by the instructions of his patron. Until 1878 his main focus is on landscape painting; it is only with the start of his imperial world tour that he develops a military focus and becomes an artist of „maritime nationalism“. With the abdication of the emperor, Saltzmann‘s career ends abruptly.
Without doubt, Saltzmann is one of the most important representatives of German marine painting of his time. Unlike his fellow artists, however, he was not selftaught, and so the influence of 19th century academic painting on his work is unmistakable. The beach view of waves and spray shows Saltzmann‘s early interest in nature – probably stimulated in Düsseldorf. He depicts it for its own sake, far removed from any romantic charge.