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Florian Grospietsch

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

View of the Isle of Capri with Stormy Sea. Etching. 30.5 x 46.2 cm. 1824. From Heller-Andresen 3 I (of II). 

This impressive sheet owes its effect not only to the monumental dimensions of the skilfully arranged composition, but also to the unusual refinement of the technical treatment. Florian Grospietsch, a largely self-taught artist who hailed from Silesia, used a highly sophisticated etching technique which is reminiscent of the printed work of his friend Joseph Anton Koch, albeit superior to the latter in its professional polish. From 1821 to 1824 Grospietsch lived and worked in Rome where, like many young German artists, he belonged to the circle around Koch, through whose encouragement he came to discover the beauty of the Roman Campagna and the South Italian coast. The present work, which testifies to the power of this experience, is one of a set of twelve etchings dating from 1824 that feature picturesque views of the mediterranean countryside around Naples (Heller-Andresen 3).

Grospietsch had an unerring instinct for dramatic effect, as this view of the Isle of Capri convincingly demonstrates. Seen from a low vantage point, the remarkably complex rendering of the rugged, cliff-lined coast unfolds before the eyes of the beholder on a monumental scale. On the far right we see the outline of the Faraglioni cliffs, one of the island’s landmarks. In the left foreground, tempestuous foam-topped waves pound the cliffs from which two men behold nature’s spectacle. The sombre, towering silhouette of Monte Solaro majestically crowns the composition. Grospietsch’s etching technique is a real feast for the eyes. The crashing waves are rendered with an extremely differentiated, minute attention to detail that never appears over-elaborate or pedantic. The same applies to the depiction of the cliffs, undergrowth and varied vegetation, for which the artist uses a refined system of dots and short little strokes. The range of shading, cross-hatching, parallel strokes, and other graphic devices he employs appears unlimited. The power of the artist’s technique, however, is best expressed in the wonderfully vibrant clouds.

A superb, differentiated, early impression with full margins, before the title in the lower margin. The white margins slightly creased and stained, otherwise in excellent condition.

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