Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf
watercolour on paper, 37.3×53 cm
Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf (1770-1841) was a self-taught painter and teacher at Osijek’s City Drawing School who, having arrived from Brno via Vienna, settled in Slavonia. He also gave his son, painter of landscape idylls and ruins Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf (1870?-1869), his first art lessons.
Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf acquired his painterly skills indirectly through book illustrations, and this at a time dominated by Classicism. The basic principles of the style equalled the ideas of ‘classical beauty’ reflected in the fixed proportions of visual representations depicting motifs from antiquity. Conceiving ideal compositions is what differentiates Classicism from Romanticism, whose version of escapism drew artistically on the immediate observance of nature.
Tivoli was one of the more frequent classicist motifs of many painters from Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) onwards. Johann Heinrich Tischbein’s (1751-1829) painting Goethe in the Roman Campagna was an example of escapism and an invitation of sorts to wealthy intellectuals to visit ancient Rome as part of their Grand Tour of Europe.
In his painting Tivoli from 1839 Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf adheres to the classicist linear arrangement of the foreground and the background, and a calm grey-green colour scheme. He painted the details of the vegetation minutely, which helped him to petrify the scene in which his dynamic presentation of a clamorous waterfall stands out as an exception. The airiness of the medium of watercolour helped Hötzendorf to soften the rigidity of the scene.
Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art©National Museum of Modern Art
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art