There’s a tug-of-war at play in the works of photographer Wilhelm Dreesen, who both worked on the picturesque and painterly landscapes, and then there's the modernization of Germany.
He worked on two kinds of aesthetic to capture the German Empire's atmosphere — one in which he shows the modernizing ports and cities of Germany in ate 19th and early 20th century cityscapes, such as the northern boundary that is Schleswig-Holstein, and the contrasting views of idyllic rural life in parts of the country. Not only did he photograph German coasts, but also Scandinavia. How he managed to do so was due to generosity. Many shipping companies offered him free travels on their ships, thus Dreesen would bring the pictures he took, making them like postcards.
One thing to note of Dreesen's work is how polished they are. His compositions are well-thought out, and the ordinary lives he did manage to capture were due to coincidence. Dreesen's true goal was to romanticize everything provincial and rural.
Images are from the public domain, courtesy of the MKG Collection.
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