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Archival item of the month: Hand drawings by Themistokles von Eckenbrecher

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Archival item of the month: Hand drawings by Themistokles von Eckenbrecher

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In the "Archival item of the month" series, the German Maritime Museum (DSM) / Leibniz Institute of Maritime History regularly presents a special treasure from the archive. Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher died on December 4, 1921. Provenance researcher Dr. Kathrin Kleibl is currently examining a bundle of the artist's hand drawings for a first publication. Reason enough to introduce the expert in late Romantic marine painting and his works in more detail.

The DSM collection contains a mysterious wooden box containing more than 160 sheets of hand drawings. When you lift the lid of the box, you are taken on a journey to distant places in the past: the artist Themistokles von Eckenbrecher travels with the viewer to various ports and places - from Gibraltar to Troy to Constantinople (now Istanbul) and up north to the fjords of Norway.

Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher - born on November 17, 1842 in Athens/Greece; died on December 4, 1921 in Goslar) was a German landscape and marine painter of the late Romantic and Historicist periods. His father Gustav von Eckenbrecher (1807-1887) came from a Prussian family of officers and worked for a long time in the eastern Mediterranean. His mother Francesca Magdalena, née Danelon (1805-1879), was Italian and the daughter of the respected Trieste merchant and British consul Joseph Danelon. Her well-traveled and cosmopolitan parents had a wide range of interests, particularly in oriental and ancient culture, and her father was a friend of the Troy explorer Heinrich Schliemann. Themistokles accompanied his parents on their travels through the Mediterranean, with the family's life centered in Berlin.
The parents noticed their son's artistic talent at an early age. The collection of hand drawings at the DSM also includes three very early children's drawings by the artist from 1847. The parents encouraged their talented son's training as a marine and landscape painter. In 1859/60, Themistokles was initially a pupil of the Potsdam court painter Carl Gustav Wegener. From 1861 to 1863, he was a private pupil of the renowned marine painter Oswald Achenbach in Düsseldorf. Eckenbrecher initially settled here and became a member of the Malkasten artists' association.

Themistokles von Eckenbrecher, who is said to have spoken eleven languages, traveled throughout Europe in his lifetime, especially the North and Baltic Seas, Scandinavia, the entire Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Middle East, Africa, the German colonies and the Philippines. He always brought new motifs and studies back to his studio from these travels. 161 sketch sheets have been preserved in the collection at the DSM (DSM inventory number I/01554/77).

Most of the 161 sheets at the DSM are in pencil, some are also colored with watercolors; and there are always several drawings on one sheet and sometimes also on the back of a piece of paper. The artist often wrote the place, motif and date of origin next to his studies. These sketches were then turned into expressive works of art in the studio. Von Eckenbrecher not only produced paintings, however, but also templates for postcards and posters, such as for shipping companies and the publishing house Deutsches Kolonialhaus. For example, two oil prints from 1910 depicting the liner network of North German Lloyd (DSM inventory number: I/03140/84 and I/03139/84). Themistokles von Eckenbrecher was appreciated for the brilliance of his colors, the light effects and glamorous sceneries of the composition of his works.
The wooden box with the drawings by Eckenbrechers was given to the DSM by Hanswilly Bernartz in 1977. Bernartz was one of the pioneers and co-founders of the new museum in Bremerhaven in the early 1970s. He was a passionate private collector of maritime art and cultural assets, a large part of which he donated to the newly founded DSM.

Eine Bleistiftezeichnung eines Schiffes.

DSM / Archiv

Bleistiftzeichnung von Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher.

Drawing by Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher. Foto: DSM Archiv

Drawing by Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher.

Drawing by Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher. Foto: DSM Archiv

Drawing by Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher.

Drawing by Karl Paul Themistokles von Eckenbrecher. Foto: DSM Archiv

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