The Romantic artist Carl Friedrich Lessing wanted to create a "Nordic" alternative to the idealised landscape of Italy. His Rhineland landscapes combine the romance of ruins with precise geological nature studies. Autumn shades of grey, brown and green link the ruined castle and the rugged rocky gorge to form a unit. In spite of its naturalistic painting style, the scene, which is completely devoid of people, looks somewhat unreal, like a stage backdrop. It is left to the imagination of the viewer to bring the landscape to life with historical events, myths and legends.
In 1927 the Frankfurter banker Hugo Kessler (1856–1929) stipulated by will that the Städel Museum was to receive his collection of artworks upon the death of his sister Anna Maria Laetitia Kessler (1863–1934). All in all, the collection comprised forty-two predominantly Baroque paintings. However, Kessler also revered younger artists, such as Carl Spitzweg and Carl Friedrich Lessing, as well as Wilhelm Busch, a personal acquaintance. In the spring of 1936 the Städel presented an exhibition of the entire Kessler-Kolligs bequest – Kolligs being the maiden name of Kessler’s mother.
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