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La Tempête (The Storm). Aquatint etching in brown ink after Claude-Joseph Vernet. 48.8 x 64 cm. 1788. Nagler 7; Heller-Andresen 6.
The Storm by Abel Schlicht, a now forgotten architect, scene painter and engraver from Mannheim, is a technical masterpiece which brilliantly evokes the highly turbulent atmosphere of the original painting by the famous French landscape and marine painter, Claude Joseph Vernet (1714–1789). The moonlight peeking out from behind heavy leaden thunderclouds bathes the scene in an eerie light and illuminates the picturesque, fissured rock ledge on the left edge of the picture in a dramatic chiaroscuro. Blinding flashes of lightning slash the pitch-dark sky; in the foreground a few survivors are making their way to safety on land from a ship that has been dashed on the sheer rocks. The masterfully handled aquatint technique proves an ideal means to achieve an effective distribution of light and the maximum atmosphere. The fine grain of the aquatint makes it appear almost possible to touch the typically craggy rocks and feel the spray of the wildly foaming waves. Abel Schlicht’s creation is a perfect illustration of the untrammelled lifestyle and affective feeling for nature of the “Sturm und Drang” period.
The print still has the original presentation mounting board with the engraved title on the mount. A superb, contrasting impression. Minor ageing and slight traces of handling in the white margins, otherwise in excellent condition. Rare.