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Athanasius Count Raczynski

(1788 Poznan – 1874 Berlin)

View of Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Pen and black ink over a light pencil drawing and watercolour, framing line in pen and black ink. 18.5 x 24.8 cm. Signed and dated: “A. Raczynski Xbre 1828”. “Cte. Raczinski Florence 1829” inscribed on the mounting paper probably in a different hand.

Count Athanasius Raczynski, a diplomat from the higher ranks of the Polish nobility, was a prominent figure in cultural and intellectual life in the Prussian royal seat of Berlin. During his extended diplomatic travels to Europe’s metropolitan cities Raczynski spent a large part of his considerable fortune on building up his collection of paintings. Resident in Paris for an extended period from 1814, he took the opportunity to travel around France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. In 1834, Count Raczynski settled permanently in Berlin, acquiring the town mansion at 21 Unter den Linden, where the gallery he built for his art collection was open to the public. Barely ten years passed before larger premises were required to house the collection. To this end King Friedrich Wilhelm IV gave Raczynski a plot of land on Königsplatz near the Brandenburg Gate, where Heinrich Strack, an architect who had studied under Schinkel, designed and built the Palais Raczynski between 1842 and 1844. The count died in 1874, the striking classical structure erected for him being demolished and replaced that same year by a new building for the German parliament, the Reichstag. Raczynski’s collection of paintings by German artists fromthe late Romantic period subsequently formed the basis for the National Museum in Poznan, while other works, including Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece Madonna and Child with Eight Singing Angels, found their way into the collection of the newly founded Nationalgalerie and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.

Like many other prominent personalities in the intellectual life of his time, Raczynski was not only a respected diplomat, but also an esteemed art writer and a talented draughtsman. The present impression of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence is remarkable for the originality of its approach. Adopting an oblique perspective, the amateur artist renders in detail the conglomeration of buildings that has grown up over the centuries. This microcosm is devoid of all human life and there is no trace of any anecdotal feature. The subtle, restrained colouring with its deli­cate pastel shades convincingly conveys the light and atmo­sphere of a cloudy autumn day.

7.500 €

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