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Georg Philipp Rugendas the Elder

(1666–1742, Augsburg)

Field Camp Outside Klinkertor Gate in Augsburg, Bombarded 8 December 1703. Pen and black ink over graphite, brown wash. 15.2 x 22 cm.

The painter, draughtsman and printmaker, Georg Philipp Rugendas the Elder, is exceptional among the Augsburg artists of his time. He was taught the art of engraving by his father at an early age and continued his artistic training during several journeys abroad. Rugendas travelled to Rome in 1689, stayed in Vienna for two years and subsequently spent a lengthy period in Venice. In the autumn of 1693 he returned to Rome, where he was accepted under the bent-name of “Schild” as a member of the Bentvueghels, a community of predominantly Dutch and Flemish artists. In 1695 he returned to Augsburg and stayed there for the rest of his life. Rugendas was very liberal-minded. A much-travelled, cosmopolitan artist, he had no desire to subject himself to the constraints of the Augsburg craftsmen’s guild, seeing himself rather as an artist. He made an outstanding career for himself in his native city as a painter of battle scenes, was equally successful as an engraver and went on to set up his own publishing house. In 1710 he was appointed director of the newly founded Augsburg Academy of Art. In 1727, finally, Rugendas was chosen as a member of the Grand Council of Augsburg, the city’s highest honorary municipal office.

This highly finished drawing, executed with great accuracy, is one of an extensive group of works in Rugendas’ oeuvre, whose objective realism and careful, meticulous drawing style provide a valuable insight into the artist’s method of working. Beneath the final drawing in pen and black ink is a light preliminary drawing in graphite which brings out every detail of the depiction with crystalline clarity. The washes are distributed across the sheet with great accuracy and a striking visual effect. The final drawings often served as models for the artist to work from, but they cannot always be linked with completed works. Driven by personal aggrievement, Rugendas produced an extensive complex of works in 1703/04 depicting the siege of Augsburg by Bavarian and French troops in those years. During the War of the Spanish Succession, the Bavarian Elector Max Emanuel ordered the imperial city to be besieged and subsequently occupied. Rugendas became the chronicler of these events and translated his designs into paintings, drawings and etchings. An outline pen-and-ink drawing, which is identical to this sheet in its composition and the group of figures but in an upright format, is in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Augsburg (Inv. No. G 5595). Literature: Anke Charlotte Held, Georg Philipp Rugendas (1666–1742). Gemälde und Zeichnungen, Munich 1996, p. 298, Cat. No. Z 26 b.

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