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Antonio de Pian

(1784 Venice – 1851 Vienna)

Entrance to a Cemetery in Front of a Gothic Church. Lithograph. 45.1 x 33 cm (image), 49.5 x 36 cm (sheet). (1820). Schwarz, Die Anfänge der Lithographie in Österreich, 155, 5.2.

The architectural and ornamental painter and lithographer, Antonio de Pian, received his artistic training in Venice and Vienna, and his early work shows the influence of Canaletto’s architectural capriccios. In 1821 he was appointed court theatrical painter in the Austrian capital. His printmaking oeuvre, numbering fifteen lithographs in all, arose mainly in the years 1820–21; it betrays de Pian’s training as a stage designer and his marked feeling for dramatic and effective set-pieces. Entirely in keeping with the prevailing taste of his period, the stylistic principle of the “picturesque” plays a pre-eminent role in de Pian’s iconography and illustrates the Romantic yearning for past epochs. The observer’s gaze is guided very imaginatively through a monumental pointed arch towards the choir of a Gothic church. We can see a run-down, stone-walled cemetery and, in the left foreground, the tomb of a bishop which has not been spared the ravages of time. Two men absorbed in conversation at the tomb invigorate the otherwise motionless scene of quiet reverence. This rare, chalk-and-pen lithograph is part of a series of five prints after de Pian’s own invention, the publication of which was recorded in 1820 in Schorn’s Kunst-Blatt (Morgenblatt für gebildete Stände). The influence on de Pian of the prints made by his contemporaries, Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Karl Blechen, is readily apparent. A fine, contrasting impression with signature and narrow margins. Minor staining, otherwise in excellent condition.

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