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The Fashion Merchant. Etching. 13.7 x 9,2 cm. 1731. Linck 61.
Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich received his initial artistic tuition from his father, Johann Georg, 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, Dietrich was appointed Inspector of the Dresden Art Gallery, in 1763 professor at the Dresden Academy. Dietrich produced around two hundred etchings. In his early days as an etcher, in particular, he had the habit of grinding the plates after pulling just a few impressions and then reworking them.
Standing behind a counter, the Fashion Merchant has laid out her goods for sale that are being examined by a customer sitting in lost profile. Some coins and a fan lie on the table and two other women are discernible behind the merchant’s back. Dietrich has rendered an everyday situation that might easily be witnessed at a market but without filling in the backdrop, thus giving the work a sketch-like feeling. This is a fairly early work by the artist, as is indicated by the date 1731 inscribed on the plate – the year Dietrich was appointed court painter at the age of just nineteen. Linck described the present etching as extremely rare. A superb, tonal early impression with thread margins. Occasional thin paper spots, minor ageing, but an excellent overall impression. From the collections of August Spatzier (Lugt 2304) and E. Fabricius (Lugt 847a).
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