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Anton Graff

(1736 Winterthur – 1813 Dresden)

Half-length Self-portrait, in Front of the Easel. Etching. 18.1 x 12.6 cm. Circa 1787. Heller-Andresen 1 II (of III). Watermark: Fragment.

Anton 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 self-portrait.
The etching, which has been executed in a free and confident manner, shows the artist at a mature age with a calm, yet very keenly observant gaze. In the background there is the hint of a canvas, indicating that Graff has spontaneously interrupted his work. A painted self-portrait from 1787, of which there are several versions (Berckenhagen 500–503), served as a model.

A chalk drawing in reverse on blue paper showing Graff in half-portrait wearing the same broad-collared coat is in the Graphic Collection of the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig (see exhibition catalogue Anton Graff. Gesichter einer Epoche, Museum Oskar Reinhart, Winterthur – Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 2013–14, no. 112, p. 288).

A very fine, strong and transparent early impression with the full deckle edge. Before the name of the artist engraved in the middle of the lower text margin. Minor defects and traces of handling, otherwise in impeccable, pristine condition. From the collection of Wolfgang von Dallwitz (Lugt 2656).

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