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Franz von Rohden

(1817–1903, Rome)

Portrait of Johann Martin von Rohden. Engraving on wove paper. 24.6 x 19.5 cm. 1846. Thieme-Becker, Künstler-Lexikon, XXVIII, p. 522.

Franz von Rohden was born in Rome in 1817 the son of the landscape painter, Johann Martin von Rohden, in whose artistic footsteps he soon followed. After studying at the Kassel Art Academy, which his father had also attended decades earlier, Franz returned to Rome, where he was apprenticed to Joseph Anton Koch for two years. At the age of eighteen he joined the studio of Friedrich Overbeck, who had a strong influence on his artistic career and whom he served as a loyal collaborator until Overbeck’s death in 1869.

In 1846 Franz von Rohden married Cristina, the daughter of the engraver, Luigi Rossini. The same year he produced a portrait drawing of his father Johann Martin, which served as the design for the present portrait engraving. It shows the prominent painter at the age of sixty-eight. Brief interruptions apart, Rohden senior lived in Rome from 1795 until his death in 1868. Together with Joseph Anton Koch and Johann Christian Reinhart he was one of the most respected figures among the German artists in Rome. In 1815 he married Caterina Coccanari, the daughter of the Sibyl landlord in Tivoli. Like Reinhart, Rohden was a passionate hunter and a striking figure, about whom many anecdotes circulated among his fellow countrymen.

The outstanding aspect of the impressive portrait on offer here is its formal rigour. Johann Martin Rohden has a striking physiognomy and the expression on his face radiates both authority and the wisdom of old age. The round cap, under which his curly hair spills out, lends him patriarchal dignity. Franz von Rohden’s preliminary drawing for the engraving is now in the Hamburger Kunsthalle. A fine, harmonious impression with margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition. Rare.

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