Riders at the Tegernsee

Wilhelm von Kobell1832

Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

These works by Kobell, in a style that he developed after 1815, were known as “Scenes of Encounters” — pictures where figures meet and yet remain silently isolated from one another. The Riders at the Tegernsee encounter each other in the bright central area of the picture, at a crossroads as though on a stage or a plinth. A dark chain of mountains provides the backdrop to the scene, and the wall of rain is not disturbing but rather heightens the sense of symmetry and concentration. The protagonists —a distinguished-looking rider on a grey horse standing parallel to the picture plane, a groom to the left and a farm horse to the right — are all clearly delineated and at no point do they overlap each other. This style of representation could be described as a “layered relief composition” (Wichmann). In its expression it is naive yet surreal. The figures are laid out as in a child’s picture or in a show-box. We see a scene where the moment of encounter is prolonged into infinity by the frozen participants; something everyday and perfectly mundane becomes a kind of ritual, which is matched both by the cool, light tones of the picture and its glazed finish; even the long shadows are light.

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