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Ernst Oppler
Tennis in den Dünen (Westende)
oil on canvas
Canvas: 17 13/16 × 21 3/4 inches (45.2 × 55.2 cm)Framed: 28 1/4 × 32 3/8 × 2 3/8 inches (71.8 × 82.2 × 6 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase.
Accession Number
Born in Hanover, Germany, Ernst Oppler began studying art in Munich in 1886. Like so many of his colleagues, Oppler was eventually drawn to Holland and spent the period of 1901 through 1904 at Sluis, in the southwestern portion of the country. After moving to Berlin in 1905, Oppler came under the influence of painter Max Liebermann (1847-1935), known for his depictions of life in orphanages, workhouses, and homes for the elderly. Oppler’s dark style from this period was eventually overtaken by a brighter, more impressionistic style, and he earned acclaim for his paintings of beach scenes, tennis games, dance halls, and other images of the middle class at play.

This painting, which depicts a tennis match in the dunes of the Belgian seaside resort town of Ostend, was purchased for the Telfair by Gari Melchers in 1916 from the estate of renowned collector Hugo Reisinger (1856-1914). The catalogue of the Reisinger estate sale gives the painting’s title as Tennis Tourney at Ostend, and describes the work as follows: “Deep, broad sand dunes form a slightly rolling sky line across the background, beyond which the observer feels the presence of the ocean beneath a soft gray sky traced with white clouds. In front of the dunes tennis courts are laid out, and fenced in with high protective nettings, and a gaily dressed collection of summer sojourners at the famous resort are gathered on all sides watching the contestants in a game.”