Cultured Wednesday: Themistokles von Eckenbrecher

Now, if your name were Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher, would you not feel an obligation to live up to it?  I guess this artist did, or at least, he lived up to it, felt obligation or no.  Here is the gentleman in question, known because he was a successful landscape and seascape painter of the late Romantic period:

themistokles von eckenbrecher 1912
Themistokles von Eckenbrecher, scan from a 1912 newspaper

Themistokles von Eckenbrecher was born 17 November 1842 in Athens, Greece, to a Prussian father and an Italian mother.  His father was a military officer, his mother the daughter of a well-respected merchant from Triest, Italy, and it appears their son was born while they were travelling, something the family did a lot, it seems.  His father allegedly helped Heinrich Schliemann to find Troy and was very much interested in the Orient.  Small wonder that the family lived in Constantinople for seven years.

Home of the Eckenbrecher’s, however, was the Prussian capital of Berlin, and that is where young Themistokles received his education, artistic and otherwise, if he wasn’t taught by private teachers on the family’s many journeys.  His love for ships and seascapes is credited to these travels, and I remember one of his paintings being a rather familiar sight when I was a child:  Eckenbrecher had painted a 1903 advertisement for the shipping company Norddeutscher Lloyd in Bremen, Germany, and a fairly large print of it was displayed inside the city’s main train station very close to Lloyd’s headquarters.

Advertisement Norddeutscher Lloyd, 1903

But such sentimentality is not the reason why we chose Mr. von Eckenbrecher for today’s feature.  It is, instead, our fascination with his paintings of Norwegian landscapes.  Have a look at a few of them, and see if you do not agree that they are powerful depictions of the country’s impressive and majestic land- (and sea-) scapes.

norwegian mill
Norwegian Waterfall with Sawmill, 1908

How about this one:

The Auguste Victoria in the Naeröfjord, 1900

Here is another waterfall:

Waterfall in the Norwegian mountains, 1906

And a view from the sea towards land:

segler vor kuestenlandschaft
Sailboats in Front of the Coast, 1919

I think, you get the idea.  A good many of these wonderful paintings are also portrayed on VisualElsewhere, a wordpress blog we found while researching the painter.

Young Themistokles von Eckenbrecher (incidentally, his last name could be translated as “corner crusher”) first learned his art from the Prussian court painter Carl Gustav Wegener, and later on became a student, in fact, the favorite student of Oswald Achenbach, who was associated with the Düsseldorf school of painting that we have mentioned before.  Von Eckenbrecher continued to travel a lot, all over Europe and on to the Near East and the colonies in Africa and the Philippines.  In addition to Latin and Greek, he spoke nine languages, which doesn’t come as a tremendous surprise for a man who was practically born on the road and kept on traveling.

Eventually, he settled again in Berlin, and two years before his death on 4 Dezember 1921, he moved to the small but beautiful city of Goslar in the Harz mountains, where Themistokles von Eckenbrecher found his final rest in the Old Cemetery.

These days, there is very little chance to see his works exhibited unless you go to the Deutschen Schifffahrtsmuseum in Bremerhaven, Germany, where a number of his smaller works can be admired.

Lastly, we would like to show you one more of von Eckenbrecher’s works, quite different from the paintings above.  It’s a watercolor, and shows a steam engine used for threshing.

eckenbrecher 1900
Dampfmaschine (steam engine), watercolor, 1900

Featured the Tijinlake, which is an oilette postcard from von Eckenbrecher’s Norway series.


6 Replies to “Cultured Wednesday: Themistokles von Eckenbrecher”

    1. Who knows, maybe they did call him Karl or Paul and only as an artist the Greek name became more prominent. He seems to have signed his paintings T.v.E…. I guess it would fit with the lifestyle of the parents to call him something ‘flashy’ like that, rather than the more commonplace Karl or Paul.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh really? How wonderful. Greetings to the old stomping grounds, and enjoy your visit to the museum. And thanks for stopping by. ☺


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