Plein Air Sketching in the North

December 11, 2018 through August 25, 2019

During the second half of the eighteenth century, the practice of using oil paint on paper while working outdoors became popular among landscape artists. Artists from Germany and Scandinavia often traveled to Italy and began making forays into the countryside to immerse themselves in nature and record their observations in small-scale studies in oil on paper.

Returning home, artists focused on their native landscapes in Germany, Denmark, and Norway, depicting distinct features from inland forests to rocky coasts. These explorations coincided with the rise of national schools of painting. Through thirteen works from the Thaw Collection of oil sketches, jointly owned with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this installation highlights the innovative approaches employed by northern artists documenting the varied sites and topography of their homelands.

This installation is a program of the Drawing Institute at the Morgan Library & Museum.

Johan Christian Dahl (1788-1857), Moonlit View of Dresden, 1826, oil on paper, mounted to paper covered wood panel. Gift of Eugene V. Thaw, 2016, Thaw Collection. Jointly Owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Graham S. Haber.