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Ignaz Johann Bendl

(Brno – circa 1730 Vienna)

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt. Etching. 37.2 x 53.5 cm. 1700. Nagler, Die Monogrammisten I, 1627, Le Blanc 2, Heller-Andresen 1.

Ignaz Johann Bendl is mainly known as a sculptor. He was closely connected to Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and executed important commissions in Vienna and Brno. Bendl's masterwork is the Fountain of the Four Elements (1699) in Brno, the structure of which is reminiscent of the work of Bernini, whom Bendl is said to have known. Bendl also produced a small but very refined printed oeuvre that includes a few biblical subjects in addition to prints after his own sculptures and designs for the applied arts.

Heller-Andresen rightly describes the present extremely rare depiction of The Rest on the Flight into Egypt as the artist’s “principal work”. The large, imposing print has been executed in a highly concentrated and expert manner. Bendl employs a very free, painterly etching technique with a wide variety of graphical patterns and hatchings which together produce a striking chiaroscuro effect. The face and hair of the Madonna and the infant Jesus are sensitively characterised with the help of fine stippling and wafer-thin, extremely delicate hatching. The iconography, which is imbued with a rich and vibrant Baroque pathos, is no less original. The Holy Family is shown resting in the shelter of a bay with ancient ruins covered by lush foliage in the background. The interaction of the various protagonists is subtly observed. On the right of the picture fishermen are dragging their nets full of fish ashore. One of them points with an eloquent gesture to the rich catch, his gaze turned towards the silent Joseph. He in turn points with a discreet gesture of his right hand to Mary who, lost in thought, is nursing her child.

A superb, rich and vibrant impression with even margins. The platemark partially uncleaned  and with occasional needle scratches. In excellent, untreated condition.

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