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Heinrich Friedrich Füger

(1751 Heilbronn - 1818 Vienna)

Jupiter Grants Hercules Immortality. Etching. 15.7 x 20 cm. Andresen 5, Robert Keil, Heinrich Friedrich Füger, Vienna 2009, p. 403.

Heinrich Füger was the leading figure in the world of Viennese art at the end of the 18th century. In his capacity as director of the Vienna Academy he was extremely influential as a teacher and made the Classicism he propagated the ultimate artistic criterion. Füger, a talented and prolific draughtsman, left a modest printed oeuvre comprising 15 etchings, whose lightness of style and elegant linework perfectly embody the stylistic principles of Viennese Classicism. The present apotheosis of Hercules probably arose between 1795 and 1800. The same accurate treatment of the figures and accomplished method of composition can also be seen in a group of drawings on mythological subjects (Keil, Catalogue of Works, 382-385) which the artist produced at this time. The gods of Olympus interact in a harmonious manner. A very innovative compositional motif is the pose adopted by Hercules, who clasps Jupiter’s hand while the supreme god grants him immortality with a potent gesture. The pathos of the occasion notwithstanding, the scene radiates a spiritual lightness and refined aestheticism, both of which are typical features of Füger’s classicism. A very fine, nuanced impression with thread margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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