Von Rohden - The Painter of Ushaw
Franz von Rohden (1817-1903)
In common with his friend Karl Hoffmann, von Rohden was associated with the Nazarene movement of artists based in Rome. Just as Monsignor Charles Newsham, Ushaw’s President in the middle years of the nineteenth century, had been instrumental in bringing Hoffman’s sculptures to Ushaw, so too was he key in securing the first two of the five von Rohden paintings we now hold.
Newsham was a great admirer of the work of the Nazarenes. This group of Catholic German artists, based in Rome, sought to re-establish religious art to a position of prominence. The ideals and subject matter they promoted are well-illustrated in Ushaw’s collection of von Rohden’s work.
Newsham commissioned the Adoration of the Magi and Shepherds (1851) and the Crucifixion (1852). The Adoration had an eventful journey from Rome, suffering damage when the ship transporting it sank in the Mersey. It was subsequently restored and installed in the Oratory of the Holy Family, specifically designed by A W N Pugin to house it. In addition to its significance as a devotional work of art, the painting is also notable for the inclusion of portraits of two important figures in von Rohden’s life. On the left is his father, Johann Martin; Johann Friedrich Overbeck (1789-1869), von Rohden’s friend and leading member of the Nazarene group, is portrayed on the right.
The Crucifixtion 1852
The Crucifixion hung for many years in Newsham’s office. It was later relocated to the Chapel of St Aloysius in Junior House where it formed part of the Chapel’s Stations of the Cross sequence.
In addition to the above works, Ushaw’s fine art collection includes The Virgin and Mary with Jesus and St John (1854), The Nativity (1877) and The Entombment of Christ (1878). The latter two works hang outside the entrance to the William Allen Gallery in elaborate heavy frames produced by the Florentine wood carver Leone Antonio Bulletti (1824-1884).