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Ferdinand Berthold

(1799 Meissen – 1838 Dresden)

Sunday. Poem in Six Cantos by Ludwig Bechstein, invented and etched by Ferdinand Berthold. Six etchings. Each approx. 23 x 32.7 cm. Leipzig, Verlag C. G. Boerner, (1832). Meyers Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon 2–7, Andresen 2–7, IV respectively.

Ferdinand Berthold was a pupil at the Dresden Academy, where he studied under Franz Gerhard von Kügelgen. Permanently confined to his room by an early illness, the artist was primarily self-taught, which accounts for the very small number of works he produced. His main opus is undoubtedly the series of prints entitled Sunday in the style of Peter Cornelius’ Faust illustra­tions, for which the poet and antiquarian, Ludwig Bechstein (1801–1860), composed explanatory cantos. Writing in 1866 in typical 19th century literary style, Andresen described the series as “rich, beautiful and noble depictions from the Sunday life of a well-to-do, middle-class family from early church service to evening benediction, in the style of the 16th century, as faithfully characterised as it is warmly, vividly and poetically conceived” (Die Deutschen Maler-Radirer des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts nach ihren Leben und Werken, Leipzig 1866; vol. I, p. 61f.).

This is an undisputed printmaking masterpiece from the period of early German Romanticism. The individual scenes are distinguished by their meticulous execution and sensitive observation of human narrative detail, as a consequence of which the beholder literally feels transported back to the everyday life of Luther’s time. Perhaps the internal immigration imposed by the artist’s illness intensified his focus on life outside and on human activities. He follows the wealthy middle-class family’s activities throughout the day. On every single sheet the main protagonists can be seen with their flock of children in different, realistically depicted everyday situations, attending church and listening reverently to the sermon, relaxing in the open air, visiting a family they are friendly with and, finally, saying evening prayers at home. Berthold idealises a harmonious, God-fearing and peaceful world and, in doing so, expresses the Romantic yearning for a long-gone era. The innocent, untroubled activities of the children are portrayed in a very apt and humor­ous manner; their carefree behaviour gives the delightful series a very special charm.

Superb, crisp and strong impressions with margins, probably on the full sheet. Scattered faint foxing, otherwise in immaculate, pristine condition. Each print affixed to a mount; “Ferdinand Berthold” inscribed there in an old hand. Provenance: Collection of Fürst zu Fürstenberg, Donaueschingen; C. G. Boerner, Düsseldorf, Neue Lagerliste, no. 85, 1986, no. 88.

12,000 €

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