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Antonio de Pian

(1784 Venice – 1851 Vienna)

Hermitage in a Roman Ruin. Suite of two lithographs with different tint stones in several grey and brown tones. Circa 45.3 x 36.1 cm. (1821). Schwarz, Die Anfänge der Lithographie in Österreich, 155, 7, 1–2.

Antonio de Pian, an architecture and scene painter and lithographer, 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 official painter to the Austrian capital’s Hoftheater. His printed work, which amounts to a total of 15 lithographs, was done mainly in the years 1820–21 and betrays de Pian’s training as a stage designer with a keen sense for dramatic mises en scène. Very much in keeping with the prevailing taste of the day, the stylistic principle of the “pic­turesque” plays an eminent role in de Pian’s iconography and illustrates the Romantic nostalgia for past epochs. The first print of the suite shows a hermit in a monk’s habit absorbed in the study of scripture. The sparsely appointed cell he inhabits creates a distinctly picturesque effect. A thatched roof supported by wooden beams rests in the foreground on a rounded arch, which in turn is supported by a classical column. The mixture of Roman and mediaeval architectural elements reinforces the stage-like, artificial character of the scene. The bright light of a flickering oil lamp is very nicely rendered as it illuminates the face of the bearded monk. The profoundly Romantic scenario and the gloomy, melancholy atmosphere are reminiscent of related themes in Blechen’s work.

Excellent, finely nuanced impressions with margins. Slight traces of handling, otherwise very well preserved.

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