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Adam von Bartsch

(1758–1821, Vienna)

Portrait of Maria Anna Schaubach in Three-quarter Profile. Etching, engraving and stipple engraving. 16.8 x 12.5 cm. 1785. Le Blanc 390, Rieger 16 II.

Adam von Bartsch was not only the initiator of the modern, systematic, critical approach to printmaking and an exceptionally gifted curator of the Imperial Court Library in Vienna, but also excelled as a talented etcher and engraver. In this portrait engraving, which has been executed with the utmost care and sensitivity, the artist has visually immortalised his first wife, the widow Maria Anna Schaubach. Bartsch married the mother of three children on 11 April 1785 a year after his return from Paris and in that same year produced two engraved portraits of his freshly wedded wife – the present one in three-quarter profile and another showing the roughly thirty-year-old en face (Rieger 15) – both of which can be regarded as companion pieces to his famous self-portrait of the same year (Rieger 14). While the portrait with the frontal view appears a little austere, the three-quarter portrait is much more elegant and in the treatment of the figure and the background approximates very closely to Bartsch’s self-portrait. This is just one of three portraits for which the artist chose a three-quarter view. For the most part he favoured the classical profile view. Maria Anna has a smile on her lips and her alert gaze is fixed on a point outside the picture. The artist’s affectionate, rapt characterisation gives the intimate portrait an intense vitality. A very fine, nuanced impression with thread margins around the inky platemark. In pristine condition. From the collection of the Princes of Liechtenstein.

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