JOHANN JAKOB ULRICH (1798-1877)
A VIEW OF THE PORT OF GENOA
Signed & dated l.r. J Ulrich 1833
Bears unidentified collector's stamp l.l. (L.1420b)
Watercolour heightened with bodycolour
22.5 x 40 cm
Johann Jakob Ulrich undertook a trip to the Ligurian coast in September 1833, visiting Genoa, Sestri Levante and La Spezia. At least five works from this trip were submitted to the Paris Salon in 1836 (cat. no. 1747-1751), one of which may have been the present work.
Johann Ulrich was born in Andelfingen, Switzerland, the son of a Cantonal clerk who would go on to become a publisher. He attended schools in Winterthur and Zurich and, advised by his father, he trained as a merchant banker. He had however already expressed a strong inclination towards painting, and had begun to copy paintings he saw in galleries even at this early stage.
The young Ulrich evidently yielded to his father’s desire and joined the banking firm Paturle, Lepin & Cie in Paris in 1816, despite his strong yearnings to become an artist; however, by 1822, he had begun to visit the studios of Jean-Victor Bertin and Camille Corot, two of the foremost up-and-coming landscape artists of the day, both of whom had only recently returned from the French Academy in Rome. Ulrich began to take lessons from the two artists, as well as studying with Xavier Leprince and his brothers and, upon leaving the bank in 1823, he studied with Theodore Gudin in Dieppe. He opened his own studio in Paris in 1825, a year after he made his debut at the Paris Salon.
Ulrich travelled in Italy between 1828-1830 under the patronage of the famous penal reformer and voracious collector Frédéric-Auguste Demetz. His paintings and drawings from this period show more of an appreciation for Corot than any of his other teachers in their atmospheric colours and naturalistic compositions, as well as a number of extant studies in oils of clouds and weather effects. He also visited England on several occasions between 1832-1835, where he found inspiration in the works of John Constable.
Ulrich settled in Zurich in the late 1830s, continuing to travel widely but, having married in 1837, more attached to his studio than he had previously been. He took on students for the first time in the 1840s, the most notable of whom was Rudolf Koller, and was appointed Professor of Landscape Painting at the Zurich Eidgenössische Polytechnikum in 1855. Ulrich continued to travel as he always had for the remainder of his career, but it is his early works that are his finest, uninfluenced by the popular taste that dictated the direction his career took in its latter half.