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Carl Ludwig Frommel

(1789 Schloss Birkenfeld – 1863 Ispringen)

Six Etched Sheets... Six etchings on Chine appliqué. 48.7 x 46.8 cm (sheet size). In the original grey cardboard envelope. 1839. Andresen 15.

A native of south-west Germany, Carl Frommel was a productive and technically very accomplished printmaker, although landscape painting was his lifelong passion. He learned the engraving technique from Christian Haldenwang in Karlsruhe before going to Paris in 1809 to perfect his artistic skills, after which he lived and worked in Rome from 1813 to 1817. In 1817, Frommel was appointed professor of painting and engraving at the Karlsruhe Academy. He introduced the newly developed technique of steel engraving to Germany and in 1824, together with the Englishman Henry Winkles, opened a workshop in Karlsruhe for this very purpose. It soon generated a brisk publishing business whose activities extended beyond Germany.

Frommel’s printed oeuvre is accordingly extensive and comprises reproductive engravings after Claude Lorrain, etchings with Italian landscape motifs of his own invention, and publications of steel engravings, such as the 103-sheet suite Picturesque Italy (1837–1840) and the cycle 50 Illustrations to Virgil’s Aeneid. Very much in keeping with middle-class educational ideals, many of these editions clearly served didactic purposes.

The present suite, printed by Frommel’s own publishing house in Karlsruhe, contains a group of etchings which were done between 1835–1838. It comprises fantasy landscapes based on motifs from the Black Forest, which have been romantically enhanced by the adroit use of staffage figures and architectural elements. In harmony with the prevailing taste at the time, the picturesquely arranged landscapes have a somewhat artificial look and betray an unmistakable tendency to eclecticism. Outstanding in artistic terms, however, is the vibrant and atmospheric title page of the series. It is executed in an very refined and intricate etching technique, which accurately captures the nuances of light on the foliage, the weather-beaten tree trunks and the crumbling masonry. The faithful rendering of nature gives the picture conviction.

Very fine, contrasting impressions with full margins. Some foxing, minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition. From the Collection of Johann Nepomuk Seiler (1793 Munich – 1876 Kempten, not in Lugt).

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