August Löhr (1842-1919/20), Landscape scene in Mexico
August Löhr (1842-1919/20)
Landscape scene in Mexico
Landscape scene in Mexico ( Valley of Mexico / Popocatépetl)
Oil on board, 12 x 8 1/2 inches visible, 19 x 15 inches framed,signed and dated l.l. “August Löhr Mexico 1896.”
Provenance: Sotheby’s (New York): Lot 57, December 2, 1999, label of the Doraduria Y Fabrica de Espejos Claudio Pellandini (framing shop, Mexico-City) attached. Excellent condition (with non-original frame).
Born in the Austrian town of Hallein in 1842 August Löhr studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich with Karl Theodor von Piloty. The latter’s style influenced the realist aesthetics of Löhr who during his student days was already a prolific landscape artist. Assisting the painter Louis Braun from 1879-1920, Löhr was involved in the creation of large-scale panoramas; he thus laid the foundation for his later work in the United States where he collaborated with artists Heine, Michalowsky, Schroeder, Schneider, Rohrbeck, and Richter on a series of monumental paintings including Jerusalem on the Day of the Crucifixion and the famous Atlanta Cyclorama. It was executed for the newly-founded American Panorama Company with Löhr erecting a 40-foot tower near Moreland Avenue and the Georgia Railroad to map and identify the necessary landmarks for the painting. Upon completion the latter was touring the United States under the names of The Battle of Atlanta or Logan’s Great Battle . Löhr had crossed the Atlantic as early as 1885 but settled in Mexico only in 1890. Here the focus of his oeuvre shifted towards the depiction of landscape scenes on a small to midsize scale. His renderings of the Mexican plains and valleys reveal his academic training as Löhr combines the serene atmosphere of his compositions with technical challenges such as the accurate rendering of night settings. The Arader painting is a perfect example of Löhr’s reinterpretation of night scenes. A group of staffage figures, possibly vaqueros , is gathering around a campfire while the moon reflects on the river and mountain tops. The artist thus transfers the familiar iconography of night paintings in the tradition of, among others, Adam Elsheimer into the realist setting of late 19th century Mexico. Note for instance the chromatic variety of the smoke and its immediate environment as well as the compositional contrast between the lower half (mostly hues of red and brown) and the upper one (predominantly blues). As for the landscape depicted, comparison with similar paintings sold at Christie’s and Bonhams in 2005 and 2014 respectively suggests that the scene takes place in the Valley of Mexico or close to the volcano Popocatépetl whose iconic snow-covered top appears in numerous paintings by the artist.
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