Station: [12] Hans Peter Feddersen: „North Frisian Landscape with Farmhouse“ (1877)

The North Frisian painter Hans Peter Feddersen painted this large-scale canvas during his art studies in Weimar in 1877.

We look at a flat marsh landscape stretching to the horizon. Red Shorthorn cattle — right, there is a black one, too — go about their daily activities, grazing sappy grass, ruminating, drinking at the watering hole, getting rid of bugs at the rubbing post or simply dozing in the sun. The early summer day is filled with crystal-clear air. The sun breaks through the clouds, its powerful rays bathing the scene in a razor-sharp play of light and shade; the animals almost seem to glow from within. On the right, a narrow path juts diagonally into the image. Two cowherds stand there at the gate and talk. The dark path lends depth to the scene: further in the background, we can barely make out a horse and cart.

Feddersen is interested in a landscape here which, at the time, was deemed unspectacular and received little attention. His observations are also very precise: the cows, for instance, are depicted with anatomical accuracy. Even though the artist never visited France himself, he was very well informed about the artistic developments there. He owed this to one of his Weimar professors, Albert Brendel, who since 1854 had worked on multiple occasions at the Barbizon artists’ colony. Barbizon was a centre of modern plein-air painting where French artists like François Daubigny and Camille Corot embarked on the path towards Impressionism. Brendel was greatly impressed with Feddersen’s painting, writing that he had seldom seen a “greater talent when it comes to light and sun”.