The Beach at Castellammare

  • Artist: Johan Christian Dahl
  • Creation date: 15. oktober 1820
  • Object type: Drawing


Johan Christian Dahl had long thought about visiting Italy when he was suddenly invited in 1820 by Crown Prince Christian Frederik of Denmark to Villa Quisisana on the Bay of Naples, where the royal couple were to spend the summer and autumn. After two months in Quisisana, Dahl accompanied the Crown Prince and Crown Princess to Naples, where they stayed for the winter.

During the six months he spent in the Naples area, Dahl made numerous drawings, watercolours, and studies in oil. Many of these works seem to be memoranda, hastily executed sketches, and preparatory studies that were meant as a repository for Dahl’s ideas and as a mnemonic aid when Dahl would later convert his impressions from Italy into oil paintings.

Also this depiction of the beach at Castellammare di Stabia has been summarily sketched with light pencil etchings. But the thoroughly revised composition and the deliberate use of watercolour hues makes the picture nonetheless appear to be an autonomous work of art. The placement of the figure in gold in the foreground is not by accident, as the little boy plays a key role as an eye-catching focal point on the otherwise desolate beach. The work exemplifies the importance of Dahl’s stay in southern Italy for his artistic development. Dahl’s style here is more immediate than in his previous watercolours, and the depiction of how the light and the atmosphere affects the landscape is cohesive and more nuanced.

Text: Bodil Sørensen

From "Highlights. Art from Antiquity to 1945", Nasjonalmuseet 2014, ISBN 978-82-8154-088-0


Johan Christian Dahl

Maler og billedkunstner

Born 24.02.1788 in Bergen, death 14.10.1857 in Dresden, Tyskland

Depicted place

Work info

Creation date:
15. oktober 1820
Other titles:
Stranden ved Castellammare (NOR)
Ölogsskepp (SWE)
Object type:
Materials and techniques:
Blyant og akvarell på papir
  • Height: 144 mm
  • Width: 212 mm
Motif - location:
Testamentarisk gave innkommet 1902
Inventory no.:
Cataloguing level:
Single object
Owner and collection:
Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, The Fine Art Collections
Høstland, Børre