Nightly paintings with Petrus van Schendel
We had already told you about the paintings of romanticism by German painters Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840) and Philipp Otto Runge (1777–1810). And also the English painter William Turner (1775–1851) had the moonlight in his mind. Here we are looking at the next generation and find the Dutch-Belgian artist Petrus van Schendel (1806–1870), whose speciality were the nightly moonlight sceneries. What distinguished him from his predecessors and colleagues, was that it were precisely those depictions of nightlight, which brought him fame and not an insignificant financial success (which was not a given for many painters).
Petrus van Schendel attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and began to work as a portrait painter. He also created religious historical paintings, but soon turned towards the typical genre of moonlit sceneries.
His paintings often showed urban life situations, for example market scenes, where he created a mixture of artificial light (mostly candles or oil lamps) and the natural moonlight, and hence compared the yellowish candle light with the cool moonlight. The resulting colour contrast, still gives these pictures a fascinating expressiveness today (the depicted sceneries themselves, are nowadays less than spectacular and appear to be quite tame and tranquil). But how the light is being reflected in the faces of the characters, was pretty much the grand cinema in those days.
A glance at the past shows yet one more time that the Moon has been accompanying humans all along and has always fascinated them.