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Restoration success: Jakob Philipp Hackert’s “River Landscape” from 1805

13.08.2010
Alte Nationalgalerie

Jakob Philipp Hackert's 'River Landscape' from 1805 has recently undergone extensive scientific analysis and restoration. Thanks to a specially devised combined method of varnish removal and varnish reduction, the radiant palette of the original has once again been brought to the fore.

Technical analysis on the painting has also had astonishing results: when enlarged some 200 times, a radiant blue glaze can be detected, applied over the entire surface. Clues to the significance and aim of the glaze can be found in the philosophical concerns of the age in which the artist lived; a time when the leading minds of Europe turned their gaze to study the formation of clouds, volcanoes and other natural phenomena. The painting was created at the dawn of the natural sciences as we know them today. The pure science of optics, colour theory and the stratification of the atmosphere were fields of enquiry then closely related to the pictorial depiction of natural phenomena. In short, Hackert attempted to simulate spheric phenomena: he painted air.