wrote Fritz Melbye from Venezuela to Camille Pissarro in Paris in 1856. The study of wild nature, untouched by the impact of civilization, became Melbye's artistic credo. It drove the Dane to "unclassical", exotic and extreme scenic sites in the world, far away from Europe’s art centres.
Without having received any academic training and influenced by the idea of the aesthetic value of a simple, everyday environment, and by plein air oil studies he had seen in Copenhagen, Melbye approached nature intuitively in extraordinarily lively oil sketches painted en plein air with a quick, broad brush or captured his impressions in spontaneous, dynamic pencil or pen-and-ink drawings. In their immediacy, subtlety, and naturalness, these works stand in contrast to Melbye's finely painted, colour-intensive paintings, which reflect a sentimental perception of nature, or even display idealized compositions with a naïve touch.
Fritz Melbye´s influence on Pissarro’s development as an artist, who had a significant impact on the French avant-garde, and the often difficult distinction of their early works, are current research topics.
Picture excerpts Life stations
1) Fritz Melbye, Segler im Morgenlicht, 1848 (private collection)
2) und 3) Fritz Melbye, La Guayara, Venezuela, 1853 (private collection)
4) Fritz Melbye, Waldlichtung in Japan, o.Dt. (private collection)
Camille Pissarro, Im Atelier von Fritz Melbye und Camille Pissarro in Caracas, Venezuela, 1854 (Col. Banco Central de Venezuela, Caracas)