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Hermanus van Brussel

(1763 Haarlem – 1815 Utrecht)

The Girl with the Candlestick. Etching with aquatint and roulette in reddish-brown on a firm laid paper. 21.1 x 17.8 cm. Nagler 5; Sliggers 51 III (of IV).

Hermanus van Brussel distinguished himself as a painter, draughtsman and, above all, as an etcher. He was trained in his native town by Johann Bernhard Brandhoff and Christian Henning and went on to study from 1782 to 1785 at the recently founded Academy of Drawing in Haarlem. He subsequently made a name for himself as a landscape painter. His graphic oeuvre, consisting mostly of light-filled landscapes executed in a deft, fluent technique, also brought him considerable esteem during his lifetime.

The present etching reproduces a drawing by the artist in reverse. Van Brussel demonstrates great sensitivity and esprit in his depiction of a night-time scene in a summarily sketched room with a window. A young maid is busy performing domestic chores by the light of an oil lamp. She gazes absent-mindedly to the right as she polishes a candlestick. The little flame of the lamp produces flashes of light on the metal objects and emphasises the fullness of the woman’s body and the fleshiness of her hands. The complexion on her girlish face with its impish snub nose glows with vibrant warmth in the darkness of the bare room. With great economy of artistic means van Brussel has succeeded in capturing an intimate moment of domestic activity in a wonderfully suggestive manner.

A superb impression with margins. Scattered foxing and surface soiling, slight damage in the left margin, isolated glue residues on the verso, otherwise in good condition.

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