Fishing boats returning home, 1872
The Hamburg-born marine painter Franz Johann Wilhelm Hünten first completed an apprenticeship as a decorative painter before becoming a pupil of Friedrich Heimerdinger (1817-1882). Here Hünten receives reformed art instruction that also includes „modern art“. Heimerdinger supported his apprentice and provided him with a scholarship that enabled him to travel to Düsseldorf at the age of 24. From 1847 1850 he attended the Düsseldorf Academy and travelled to Holland and Belgium during his holidays. Although Hünten learns from classical landscape painters, he specialises in seascapes early on, as Düsseldorf has become a centre for marine painting – half a century before the first professorship for the genre at the Berlin Academy. Back in Hamburg, he receives numerous commissions to decorate the salons of the steamships of the Hamburg-America Line. He undertakes journeys to England, Scotland, Scandinavia and the Orient, where he intensively studies nature. Hünten died in Eimsbüttel in 1887.
The painting is a characteristic example of the coastal landscapes in which Hünten specialised. Thanks to his intensive travels, he had many opportunities to observe the rugged rocky slopes of France, Britain and Scandinavia. Hünten advocates a naturalistic rendering of the landscape, depicting even the imperfections of the world in a naturalistic way rather than rendering them hyper-realistically precise.