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Adrian Zingg

(1734 St. Gallen – 1816 Leipzig)

Mountain Landscape with a Large Oak and Two Travellers Resting in the Foreground. Pen and brown ink, brown wash, over a light preliminary drawing in graphite. 61.5 x 45 cm. Circa 1800.

Perfectly preserved despite its considerable size, this drawing is a characteristic example of Zingg’s late style and impressively illustrates his graphic bravura. A majestic oak with widely spreading branches and abundant foliage dominates the scene. In the background the viewer discerns the outlines of a mountain range, while in the right foreground two travellers are resting in the grass. Zingg combines a sweeping artistic vision with a loving attention to detail. The plants and herbs in the foreground, the ivy winding its way up the tree trunk and the leaves of the oak are rendered with painstaking accuracy. This concern with detail, however, in no way vitiates the mood of the portrayal. Zingg’s landscape impression, which was probably drawn not from nature but from memory, is imbued with a high degree of nature lyricism that anticipates the Romantic landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich.

In 1759, having completed his apprenticeship in his native Switzerland, Adrian Zingg moved to Paris, where he was to live and work until 1766. Here he made the lasting acquaintance of Johann Georg Wille, who was a generation older than himself. Wille took the young artist under his wing and introduced him to the Parisian artistic scene. In the French capital Zingg was mainly active as a reproductive engraver, making such a name for himself in this fi eld that in 1766 he was appointed to teach engraving at the newly founded Dresden Academy. In his new home Zingg became friends with Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich and Anton Graff, a fellow Swiss. With Graff he undertook his first hike through the nearby Elbsandsteingebirge – a low mountain range on both sides of the River Elbe– in the summer of 1766. In the following years Zingg not only systematically explored the Saxon landscape, but also travelled through Bohemia, Thuringia and Brandenburg. The huge fund of nature studies he made in the course of these expeditions constitute the real basis of his art and established his reputation as a landscape painter. The public distinctions the artist accumulated over the years refl ected his renown. In 1769 the Vienna Academy appointed him a corresponding member, and in 1787 he became a member of the Berlin Academy. In 1803 Zingg was appointed to the Chair of Landscape Drawing at the Dresden Academy, which enabled him to play an important role in the development of Romantic landscape painting.

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