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Anton Graff

(1736 Winterthur – 1813 Dresden)

Half-length Portrait of the Merchant Basse from Frankfurt am Main. Etching. 18.4 x 11.8 cm. Heller-Andresen 3 II (of III).

Graff, one of the foremost portrait painters in 18th century German art, received his training from Johann Jacob Haid, a specialist in mezzotint engraving. Although thoroughly conversant with printmaking techniques, he produced a mere three etchings of his own, including this quite rare half-length portrait of a Frankfurt merchant named Basse, whose forthrightness and self-possession are conveyed in convincing manner. Dressed elegantly and in nonchalant pose, he emanates a self-confidence that gives the portrait naturalness and informality. The line work is correspondingly brisk and varied. A superb, contrasting and harmonious impression with small margins. Before Basse’s name. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition.

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