Gerson Digital : Germany I


5.2 The Frankenthaler Artist Colony and Landscape Painting in Frankfurt

As is known, the Frankenthal artist colony in the first place affected landscape painting, but it appears that these Flemish artists also were significant history painters. 1 In the beginning of his career, Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610) painted landscapes in the manner of the Frankenthal masters [1]. But he had left Frankfurt already by 1598. In Venice and Rome his style became clearer, and in another place we have indicated how important his art has been for the generation of young, realistic landscape painters from the North.2 But many others, who never were in Italy, knew his art from the prints by Hendrick Goudt (c. 1583-1648) [2], who settled in Utrecht.

Adam Elsheimer
Saint Paul on Malta, c. 1598-1599
copper, oil paint 17 x 21,3 cm
London, National Gallery (London), inv./ 3535

Hendrick Goudt after Adam Elsheimer
Tobit and the angel near a river, dated 1608
paper, engraving 135 x 191 mm
Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, inv./ RP-P-H-N-37

Johann Heinrich Roos
Self-portrait of Johann Heinrich Roos (1631–1685), dated 1682
canvas, oil paint 83 x 60 cm
Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, inv./ GG 559

In the second half of the 17th century a certain type of Dutch landscape painting was suddenly adopted in Frankfurt. It was not the forest landscapes by Jacob van Ruisdael, nor the wide plains of Jan van Goyen, but the Italian pastoral idyll, as seen through the eyes of someone like Nicolaes Berchem and many of his contemporaries. In Frankfurt this genre, which was loved so much at the German courts, was cultivated primarily by the two brothers Johann Heinrich (1631-1685) [3] and Theodor Roos (1638-1687). Both came to Amsterdam in their early years, where they learned from Guilliam du Gardijn, Cornelis de Bie and Barend Graat.

Johann Heinrich Roos was in Italy between 1650 and 1654 and settled down in Frankfurt in 1657.3 His Italianate landscapes are painted in the manner of Berchem and Dujardin, only a bit less elegant and fluffier in the modelling (fig. 74/17) [4].4 In this respect they are of the same quality and similar to the works of Willem Romeyn. In other paintings he takes Philips Wouwermans as his model (Pommersfelden, no. 460, dated 1673) [5].5 His portraits are slightly harsher and sharper than the contemporaneous products of Nicolaes Maes, which they resemble in many other respects. His Self-portrait in Frankfurt [6]6 suggests that Rembrandt’s work made a deep impression on him [7].

Johann Heinrich Roos
Landscape with shepherd family at a Roman ruin, dated 1674
canvas, oil paint 54,6 x 61,5 cm
lower left : JHRoos. f. 1674. [JHR in ligature]
Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, inv./ 555

manner of Johann Heinrich Roos
Portrait of a middle-aged man, after 1749
panel, oil paint 28,3 x 20,8 cm
Frankfurt am Main, Städel Museum, inv./ 556

Johann Heinrich Roos
Landscape with a gray and goats at a ruin, dated 1673
canvas, oil paint 37 x 30,5 cm
lower left : JHRoos fe. 1673.
Pommersfelden, Schloss Weissenstein der Grafen von Schönborn

Johann Heinrich Roos after Rembrandt
Portrait of a woman, possibly Aeltje Petersdr Uylenburgh (?-1644), c. 1650
canvas, oil paint 62 x 48 cm
lower left : H. Roos
Dessau (Saksen-Anhalt), Anhaltische Gemäldegalerie - Schloss Georgium, inv./ 134

In 1664 Johann Heinrich Roos, who was born a Palatine, became a court painter to Elector Karl Ludwig of the Palatine. He painted the Heidelberg Castle, which he situated in a Roman ruin landscape [8].7 He also worked three years in Kassel, where his animal and hunting scenes were engraved by Bartholomäus Kilian II (1630-1696). His paintings must have been known in Holland too. Michiel Carrée, a pupil of Nicolaes Berchem, is particularly close to him.8

His younger brother Theodor Roos [9] moved through almost every central and Southern-German court (Mainz, Kassel, Mannheim, Braunscheig, Ryntveld, Stuttgart, Strasbourg). In Mannheim he became famous because of his large militia painting of 1657 and soon received more portrait commissions [10]. He also painted the portraits of Liselotte von der Pfalz and the Duke of Orleans. So the ‘Dutch’ concept of portraits and Arcadian landscape of the Roos brothers spread all over Southern Germany.

Johann Heinrich Roos
Landscape with ruins, in the background the castle of Heidelberg, c. 1670
canvas, oil paint 69,7 x 60,8 cm
lower right : JHROOS. [JHR in ligature]
Hannover, Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum Hannover

Theodor Roos
Self-portrait of Theodor Roos (1638-1687), dated 1678
canvas, oil paint 102 x 82 cm
center : TRoos se me ipsum faciebat. A 1678
Bremen (Germany), Galerie Neuse

Theodor Roos
Portrait of Johann Jacob Fried (1623-1677), dated 1667
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
upper right : NATVS [....]/ [.........]
Strasbourg, Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg, inv./ MBA 2194

This style lived on into the 18th century through Johann Heinrich’s sons: Philipp Peter, called Rosa da Tivoli (1655/7-1706) [11-12], Johann Melchior (1663-1731)[13], Franz (1672-after 1715) and Peter (1675-1727). In particular Rosa da Tivoli, whose sons were painters too, reverted to Berchem’s landscapes, in the same way as Simon van der Does did in Holland. On the other hand the impact of Italian art in his work should not be underestimated, as he worked in Rome from the age of 20. The works of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglioni and, to a lesser extent of Claude Lorrain, made an impression on him. But his son Joseph (1726-1805) stayed true to the ‘original’ Berchem tradition: he often strived for a Paulus Potter-like strength and size, a change that can be observed in the works of many animal painters at the end of the 18th century. It is not clear if a K. Roos is connected to this Roos family [14].9 As a German follower of the Roos family we can also mention Johann Philipp Fürich (1651-1721), whose paintings seem to be very rare.10

Philipp Peter Roos
Italian landscape with the golden horse, c. 1695
canvas, oil paint 96 x 89 cm
Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, inv./ 567

Johann Melchior Roos
The realm of animals, dated 1728
canvas, oil paint 104 x 168 cm
lower center : Roos fecit 1728
Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, inv./ 1064

Philipp Peter Roos
Italianate mountain landscape with shepherd attending a horse
canvas, oil paint 98,8 x 132,6 cm
Christie's (Amsterdam) 2008-11-10, nr. 109

K. Roos
View in a village with a blacksmith and a shoemaker, second half 17th century or first half 18th century
canvas, oil paint 66 x 81,5 cm
: K. Roos fecit
Mak 1969-11-25 - 1969-11-28, nr. 65


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] The paintings that were made for the Town Hall in Frankfurt around 1630, were partly made by Frankenthaler history painters. Dr. K. Simon prepares a publication. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Simon 1948.

2 [Van Leeuwen 2017] In the chapter on Italy (Gerson 1942/1983, p. 147-150).

3 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson took this information from Thieme/Becker 1907-1950, vol. 28 (1934), p. 579. More recently it is assumed that Johann Heinrich did not go to Italy; he finally settled down in Frankfurt in 1667, not 1657 (Jedding 1998, p. 12).

4 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Jedding 1998, p. 76, 232-233, no. 104.

5 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Jedding 1998, p. 54, 56, ill. 67.

6 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Dendrochronological research (2015) revealed that the panel dates from after 1749, way after the death of Johann Heinrich Roos. However, Roos did copy a portrait of an old lady by Rembrandt during his formative years in Amsterdam (Grosskinsky/Michels et al. 2003 , p. 171-172, no. 22, ill.).

7 [Gerson 1942/1983] Hannover 1930, no. 144. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Jedding 1998, p. 333, no. 1, ill. 1 (color) opposite p. 150.

8 [Gerson 1942/1983] Both are treated extensively by Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 2, p. 277-278 and 288. The comparison is already made by Gwinner 1862, p. 205-213. Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach saw in 1711 ‘Animal pieces by our old Roos, which were appreciated very much by Mister La Court [in Leiden]’ (in translation) (Uffenbach 1753-1754, vol. 3, p. 421).  Many works were assembled at the Memory exhibition in Kaiserslautern in 1935.

9 [Gerson 1942/1983] In the auction London 16 February 1934, no. 64 was a signed ‘Blacksmith on the street’, which is indistinguishable from Jan Victors. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Another version of the work Gerson mentions is RKDimages 286294. Accept for the name, there is no indication that K. Roos worked in Germany. K. Roos copied Jan Victors. On K. Roos:  Miller 1985, vol. 1, p. 105-108; vol. 2, ill. 30-32.

10 [Gerson 1942/1983] On Fürich: Hüsgen 1780; Gwinner 1862. On the Roos family: Thieme/Becker 1907-1950, vol. 28 (1934). Many images in Biermann 1914.

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