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JOHANN GEORG MANSFELD
(1764–1817, Vienna)

Portrait of Johann Adam Klein. Etching. 18.6 x 13.2 cm. 1815. Heller-Andresen 4.

The ‘Imperial and Royal Cabinet Etcher’, Johann Georg Mansfeld, learned his craft from his father, Johann Ernst (1739–1796), who himself had studied under Johann Jacob Schmutzer. At an early stage, around 1802, Mansfeld the Younger turned his attention to the recently invented printing process of lithography and after 1811 collaborated in Vienna with Johann Adam Klein, making lithographs after his designs. In 1815, Mansfeld set up his own lithographic studio in the city (‘k.k. Lythogr. Bureau’), where Klein and Johann Christoph Erhard were among his collaborators in 1816.

This sensitively observed and delicately rendered portrait of his younger fellow artist Klein is rare and dates to the same year in which Mansfeld opened his printing works in Vienna. The little portrait, which he dedicated to his friend Klein ‘as a souvenir’, has been executed with painstaking care and tech­nical refinement. Not only is it appealing in graphical terms, it also produces a subtle tonal effect. The oval frame gives the portrait compositional firmness and coherence. Klein looks up from his sketchbook and gazes at the observer a little absent-mindedly, as if his concentration has just been disturbed. His pose, with the little drawing cahier resting on his bent right knee, is nonchalantly casual. A very fine, nuanced impression with even margins. Minimal foxing, slight ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.