Seascape with jetty, 1852
Having taken painting lessons in his hometown of Dessau, Wilhelm Krause (1803-1864) first worked as a tenor singer at the Königstädtisches Theater in Berlin. In 1827 he turned to marine painting when he joined the Wachs studio there, without ever having seen the sea, as an entry on his first public seascape in 1828 testifies. After his first successes, he trained his eye for maritime natural phenomena on study trips to Norway, Holland, Belgium, and France. In 1833 Krause became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts, in whose exhibitions he regularly participated from 1826. He is regarded as the founder of the Berlin school of marine painting.
In this panoramic painting, influenced by 17th-century Dutch models, the striking feature is the expansive view of a blue sky occupying two-thirds of the picture‘s surface, displaced by towering greyish-yellowish mountains of clouds. The shallow, swirling sea is pictured in shades of blue-grey and brown and has no ships except for a few distant sailing ships on the low horizon line where a coastline is suggested. To the left, the waves crash on a jetty running diagonally into the sea, which is reinforced with piling. A few colourfully dressed figures look out to sea from here and, together with the Dutch banner fluttering in the wind, are the only splashes of colour in the monochrome weather conditions. It is possible that in this marine with its wide sky and narrow strip of moving water, Krause is picking up on an everyday scene that he might have observed on a Dutch inland sea, for example the Ijsselmeer, during his trip to
Holland in 1834.