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Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich

(called Dietricy, 1712 Weimar – 1774 Dresden)

The Angel Prevents the Sacrifice of Isaac (in the manner of Rembrandt). Etching. 18.9 x 14.5 cm. 1730. Linck 7.

The Sacrifice of Isaac is an early graphic masterpiece by Dietrich, who was just eighteen years of age when he produced this dramatically animated print. The composition is a successful adaptation of an etching on the same theme made by Rembrandt in 1655 (The New Hollstein 287). In his early years Dietrich was greatly influenced by Rembrandt. His recourse to the great Dutch predecessor was symptomatic of a rediscovery and fresh appreciation of the master which commenced in Germany in the first half of the 18th century. Christian Dietrich received his initial artistic tuition from his father, Johann Georg Dietrich, a painter and printmaker at the court in Weimar. He subsequently enrolled at the Dresden Academy, where he studied under the landscape painter, Alexander Thiele. The latter recommended his pupil to the Elector of Saxony, Augustus II the Strong, to whom Dietrich became court painter in 1731. Two years later the artist, who had called himself Dietricy since the 1730s, undertook a one-year study trip to Italy. In 1748, he was appointed inspector of the Dresden Art Gallery. Dietrich made some two hundred etchings, although in the early years he had the habit of grinding off the plates after a few impressions and beginning again from scratch. Hence, according to Linck, the present etching is “of the utmost rarity”.

A superb, extremely lively and striking early impression from the uncleaned plate, with even thread margins around the inky platemark. Verso with contemporary collectors’ notes in pencil. Minor ageing, otherwise in pristine condition. From the collection of Philipp Hermann, Karlsruhe (Lugt 1352a).

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