Karl Lindemann-Frommel was born in 1819 in Markirch, a town in Alsace, also known by its French name of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. Following the early death of his father in 1828, he was entrusted to the care of his uncle Carl Ludwig Frommel, a famous painter and engraver from Karlsruhe, where he taught at the Academy and founded the Society of Art and Industry.
He therefore grew up artistically under the wing of his uncle, who was also appointed director of the Grand Ducal Picture Gallery in the 1950s and who transmitted to him the need to make the classic grand tour of Italy, as he had done in his youth. In fact, he had been there since 1813, staying for a long time in Rome, where he had come into contact above all with the Nazarene painters of the German circle and with the Italian Purists.
The stay in Rome and the Association of German Artists
It is important to emphasise, however, that his uncle Carl Ludwig was not his only teacher, as he was also flanked by the landscape painter Carl Rottmann, another painter closely linked to our country, where he stayed during the 1920s. In 1846, however, Karl Lindemann Frommel, aged twenty, came to Rome for the first time. He immediately came into contact with a group of German artists and in particular became a member of the Ponte Molle Society (Pontemolle Gesellschaft), which later became the Association of German Artists (Deutscher Künstlerverein), where he was one of the founding members.
Under this name, referring to Ponte Milvio, gathered in fact all the artists of Teutonic origin who generally followed the steps of Nicolas Poussin. In the seventeenth century, in fact, the French landscape painter had made famous the whole territory of the Roman Campagna surrounding the still wild and uncultivated banks of the Tiber between Ponte Milvio, Saxa Rubra and Tor di Quinto, up to the so-called Casale del Pussino, the Castle of Tor Crescenza.
From the classical landscape to the airy views of the Eternal City
The German artists, cheerful patrons of the local taverns, where they often display their impressions, have paid homage to this stretch of the Tiber through works that skilfully draw on Poussin’s paysage classique. This is the context for the delightful oil on paper study Poussin’s Walk to Monte Mario (1859), in which Carl Lindemann-Frommel uses a loose brushstroke modulated in pearly tones to render the magical reflections of a dull sky on the calm, golden waters of the Tiber.
During his Roman years, however, he also travelled to visit other European cities: in 1849 he went to London, but first stayed in Switzerland and Belgium, before returning to Karlsruhe in 1850. After a three-year stay in Paris from 1853 to 1856, he returned to Rome, where he remained until his death. He continued to devote himself to views of the city and its countryside, combining his work as a landscape painter with that as a teacher at the Accademia di San Luca. From a stylistic point of view, he started with classical views and then moved on to a casual language rich in atmospheric notations, which can be seen not only in his oils, but also in his copious production of engravings – collected in the album Vignettes aus Rom – and watercolours, which made him one of the most important German painters in Rome.