Johann Jakob Frey, artistically formed between Paris and Monaco, already in 1835 he made a trip to Italy and a year later she moved permanently to Rome captivated – in the wake of many of his colleagues who were his contemporaries – from the attractive opportunities that could draw inspiration in the eternal city. The success greeted him ever since these early Italian thanks to the rich iconographic baggage that went through preparing some trips “exotic”: in 1842/43 he visited Egypt and Greece and then between 1848 and 1849 in Spain.
Obviously these trips accompanied an accurate survey of the most famous places of the Italian peninsula arriving in Sicily. Frey style that he developed in recent years is different – as already pointed Carlo Virgilio – on the accuracy of the Nordic lenticular active in Rome in the wake of Joseph Anton Koch, with the unmistakable intention of recovery century that implied.
The Swiss matured to the contrary, a romantic vision of matrix, attracted by the spectacle of Nature he was able to stage a “poetry of silence” (Mazzocca 1994), leaving the protagonists of his compositions always lush vegetation and the predominance of leafy trees – this almost a stamp illustrations of the master – relegating the human figure as a helpless spectator superfluous.
From here a series of studies conducted in pencil on paper with relentless rigor and meticulousness from the truth – whether through small sketches and thanks in large sheets and finished products – in the wake of the innovative method imported from Italy in Paris by Camille Corot, which in fact was based on the study from life in pencil and oil on paper and then on the restatement in the studio in the paintings of the largest measurement.
E corresponds to the immediacy of the studies in Frey the rapidity of touch of the oils: always fast, hanging with a liquid color and flickering and color combinations unscrupulous, able to set the intensity of light on the canvas. Mutatis mutandis is the method and style that we find in the great colleagues of his era: by Anton van Sminck Pitloo to Giacinto Gigante, by Ivan Konstantinovic Ajvazovskij to Ippolito Caffi.
And in the same way as these great teachers should be considered Frey, one of the pioneers of the revolution in landscape painting of classical setting, but checked on the real, developed through the first half of the nineteenth century.
The success that met with his production this led him to have important international collectors: from the German kings (from Ludwig I of Bavaria to the king of Prussia) English aristocracy to reach new amateurs Russians and Americans. Hence its transfer in the elegant and expensive, Hotel de Russie Via del Babuino – where he resided almost permanently – and the frequent trips abroad for cultivating the chosen customer. The Carolina daughter later married the artist, and politician, Ettore Ferrari.