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Cantius Dillis

(1779 Gmain – 1854 Munich)

An Autumnal Forest with Red Deer. Black chalk, watercolour and gouache, heightened with white, on brownish wove paper; framing line in black chalk. 26.8 x 33.7 cm. Signed: C. Dillis f., verso signed, in-scribed and dated: Waitforst in Helfendorf 17.t. Septbr. 1838 / Cantius Dillis f.

This very fine and excellently preserved landscape drawing is a convincing proof of Cantius Dillis’ talents as a draughtsman. Cantius was a generation younger than his brother Johann Georg (1759–1841), who trained him as a draughtsman and landscape painter. The precocious Cantius was only ten when his brother brought him to Munich. Cantius and Johann Georg must have had a close affection for each other, as they formed a working and domestic partnership which was to last until the older man’s death.

The Autumnal Forest with Red Deer dates from Cantius’ mature phase and was doubtless intended as a work of art in its own right. The confident drawing technique betrays the defining example of the elder and highly gifted brother. Trees and shrubs are indicated with strong, sure lines. The finely gradated colouring, reduced to a few brown and green tones that are effectively relieved in places by bright daubs of white and blue, makes for great atmospheric density. A gentle light streams over the vegetation of the autumnal wood and illuminates the fresh green of a glade in the background. A roebuck stands motionless in the protection of the trees, while a doe and her kid graze in the meadow. The skilfully rendered animals form an effective staffage, which enhances the romantic mood of the landscape. With great economy of means Cantius has succeeded in producing an intimate and wonderfully vivid scene from nature.

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