Carl Rottman, 1847, oil on canvas
35.5 × 45.5 cm (14 × 17.9 in)
State Art Gallery, Germany
Carl Rottmann was a German landscape painter most renowned for his depictions of ancient Greek mythological locations. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, artists, philosophers, and writers alike shared a nostalgic fascination with ancient Greece and Rome, thus instigating the emergence of Neoclassicism. Academics such as Johann Winckelmann perpetuated the notion that the height of humanity was during Greek antiquity, and that to replicate Greek art was to disseminate beauty itself. Rottmann’s Island of Delos, which depicts the mythologically and archeologically significant island, reputedly the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, reflects the utopian connotations of the antique. The saturated red, blue, and gold hues and pervasive luminosity are born from the artist’s imagination. While Rottmann painted the work on the Greek mainland, he takes liberty to exaggerate and invent the Island of Delos as a paradise in its own right.