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Christ and the Apostles’ Holy Communion. Etching. 41.8 x 31.4 cm. Circa 1765. Nagler 2; Garas 182.
Franz Anton Maulbertsch, the pre-eminent late Austrian Baroque painter, is known to have produced just twelve etchings, all of which he made during the last twenty years of his life. In 1770 he was admitted to the Academy of Engraving in Vienna, which had been founded a few years previously by his later father-in-law, Jakob Schmutzer. The artist subsequently devoted more of his time to etching.
The present, extremely rare sheet is an early work which, in stylistic terms, dates to the mid-1760s and is not based on a painting. Maulbertsch’s interpretation of the Last Supper is highly individual. The visionary scene is invigorated by a tremendous inner tension. When it comes to scenic drama and psychological expressiveness Maulbertsch is an absolute exception in his time. Individual facial features look as if they have been contorted into a grimace; the disciples appear to have been seized by a kind of religious ecstasy. The ghostly flickering light accentuates the supernatural character of the scene. The strong, oblique lighting from the right gives the composition inner coherence and produces a somewhat theatrical chiaroscuro in which Maulbertsch uses the white paper tone to very telling effect.
The etching is without doubt one of the foremost works of Austrian Baroque printmaking. A superb, contrasting impression with even margins. Occasional traces of handling, a smoothed drying fold verso, a small strip of paper applied in the upper margin verso, otherwise in excellent condition.Contact us for further information