Men in Costume on a Rowboat in Venice
  • Friedrich Christian Nerly
  • Erfurt 1807 - 1878 Venice
  • Men in Costume on a Rowboat in Venice
  • Watercolour over black chalk, pen and brown ink,
    partly heightened with white, on paper,
  • signed with pencil lower left: Nerly
    monogramed with pen and brown ink: F.N.
    a study of a small boat on a canal on the verso
  • 223 × 306 mm
Private collection Munich

After the early death of his father, Friedrich Nerly grew up in the care of relatives in Hamburg. There his youthful talent came to the attention of the art-lover and patron Carl Friedrich von Rumohr (1785-1843), who occupied himself with Nerly’s artistic education and eventually took him in 1828 on an extended study journey to Italy. However, Nerly soon made himself independent in the land of his dreams and settled in Rome. There he quickly took an active role in multiple artists’ organisations.

In 1835, Nerly relocated to Venice and never grew tired, even in old age, of attempting to capture the fascination of its unique architecture and of life on the lagoon. Alongside his atmospheric paintings, Nerly was above all famous for his unmistakable watercolours, treasured by his contemporaries for their warm, light-drenched colours.

On this sheet, the artist depicted a group of costumed men in a rowboat on a Venetian canal, whose waves and expansive gestures nearly cause the boat to capsize. The watercolour is a rare example of a crowded and highly dynamic composition within the drawn oeuvre of the artist.