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Ferdinand Schmutzer

(1870–1928, Vienna)

Portrait of the Painter, Rudolf von Alt. Drypoint and roulette on Japan paper. 57 x 34.4 cm. Signed. 1899. Weixlgärtner 19 V.

Ferdinand Schmutzer was one of the most talented painter-etchers in fin-de-siècle Vienna. After studying at the Academy there from 1886 to 1893, he undertook study trips to Holland, Germany and France. From 1901 Schmutzer was a member of the Vienna Secession, acting as its president from 1914 to 1917. He produced an extensive corpus of prints, mostly portraits whose appeal lies in their technical proficiency and masterly psychological characterisation.

This magnificent portrait of the Viennese painter and exceptionally gifted aquarellist, Rudolf von Alt (1812–1905), is an early work. An outstanding figure in Viennese art circles whose work spanned seven decades of the 19th century, von Alt was eighty-seven years old at the time this portrait was taken. His relaxed pose conveys an air of proud self-confidence and the wisdom that accompanies old age. The artist appears introspective, as if looking back on a long and fulfilled life. The clear light stream­­ing in from the top right illuminates his noble, age-worn face with its full head of hair and striking white beard. The print appeared in a limited edition and is rare.

A superb, atmospheric and contrasting impression with the full margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect con­dition. From the collections of Max Blach, Vienna (Lugt 261 e) and Hans Philipp Gutachker (not in Lugt).

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