Blechen gave up a job in a bank to become an artist in 1820, entering the Academy in Berlin to study landscape. Late in 1828 he set out for Italy, where he spent nine months with the community of German artists in Rome and painted free and vivid landscape oil sketches.
In the summer of 1829 Blechen travelled down to Naples where he worked assiduously until September when his money ran out, forcing him to return home. Back in Berlin, he taught at the Academy and continued to paint, but his studio pictures did not find a ready market. In recent years, however, he has become increasingly recognised as one of the leading German artists of his generation.