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Florian Grospietsch

(1789 Protzan – 1820/28 active in Rome and Naples)

Veduta di S. Francesco presso Amalfi. Etching. 31.6 x 45.8 cm. 1824. Heller-Andresen, from 3.

This delightful print is remarkable not only for the impressive spatial effect of the panoramic scene, but also for the astonish­ing finesse of the technical execution. Florian Grospietsch, who hailed from Silesia and was largely self-trained, used an advanced etching technique reminiscent of the manner employed by his friend, Joseph Anton Koch, although he surpassed the latter in terms of technical sophistication. From 1821 to 1824 Grospietsch lived and worked in Rome where, like many young German artists, he belonged to the circle around Koch and, drawing inspiration from him, explored the beautiful landscape of the Campagna and the coast of southern Italy. The present work testifies to this formative experience; it comes from a series of twelve etchings of views from the surroundings of Naples which the artist produced in 1824 (Heller-Andresen 3).

Grospietsch had a particular talent for effective and dramatic presentation, as is illustrated by this view of the picturesque monastery of San Francesco near Amalfi. Seen from a low van­tage point, an imposing, cleft rock face towers upwards in epic breadth before the viewer’s eyes. The Mediterranean vegetation consisting of agaves, cacti, shrubs and different kinds of deciduous trees is depicted very convincingly. Occasional tiny staffage figures populate the majestic natural backdrop, making it appear even more imposing. The extreme foreshortening of the stone steps that wind their way upwards creates a tre­men­dous sense of depth. While Grospietsch employs a highly differentiated, meticulous etching technique, he is never fas­tidious or pedantic. He uses an extensive range of different hatchings, stipples, short little strokes and other graphic signs. The subtly applied plate tone is effective in bringing out the shaded areas. These technical means enable the artist to evocatively capture the delicate interplay of light and shade. The outcome is a vibrant, shimmering, graphical surface pattern of great visual charm. It is all too easy to imagine how heroic depictions of this nature must have kindled the yearning for Italy felt by viewers far away in Germany. A very fine, nuanced impression printed with delicate tone, with even margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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