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Georg Heinrich Busse

(1810 Bennemühlen near Hannover – 1868 Hannover)

Picturesque Etchings from Italy, first instalment. Six etchings printed on Chine appliqué. Each about 17 x 24.5 cm. 1835–39. Andresen 23–28 I (of II).

This suite of Picturesque Etchings from Italy totalling eighteen sheets, which appeared in three instalments between 1840 and 1846, marks an artistic high point in the printed work of Georg Heinrich Busse. Busse trained as an engraver in Dresden under Christian Ernst Stölzel and in 1835 travelled on a royal stipend to Rome, where he was to live and work until 1844. Busse was mainly active as a landscape artist in Italy. The influence of Joseph Anton Koch and the journeys the artist undertook to the Roman Campagna, southern Italy and Sicily enabled him to deepen his understanding of the southern landscape. The present six etchings document individual episodes from Busse’s stay in Italy. The keynote is set by an atmospheric depiction of Lake Eibsee in Bavaria together with the Zugspitze mountain, the last stop on the road to Italy. In the foreground we see a rear view of the artist sitting in a rowing boat drawing the majestic landscapes around him. There follow richly detailed views of Perugia, the Ponte Molle near Rome, the Forum Romanum, and the town of Terracina in Latium. The landscapes are composed accurately, while the carefully arranged backdrops of the individual compositions lend the scenes a slightly theatrical character. Busse’s etching technique is intricate and detailed. Mediterranean vegetation and picturesque staffage figures are cleverly used to enhance the romantic mood of the portrayals. The high point of the suite is the dramatic scene of the ascent of Mount Etna, which Busse undertook in the company of fellow artists in the early morning of 29 September 1838. Streaks of fire and dense clouds of smoke arise from the jagged crater, while molten lava streams down the steep mountainside on the right. The inscription below the scene reads: "Utterly exhausted, we finally reached the peak of rumbling Etna / and found ourselves, as it were, in a new, quite indescribable world."

Superb, sharp and contrasting impressions printed on the full sheet, two etchings printed on a slightly smaller paper format. Before the numbers in the centre at the top; Andresen 28 before the alteration of the inscription. Minor ageing, otherwise in impeccable condition. From the Collection of Johann Nepomuk Seiler (1793 Munich – 1876 Kempten), not in Lugt.

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