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Joachim Martin Falbe

(1709–1782, Berlin)

Attributed. Half-length Portrait of a Young Man with Hat, Looking to the Right. Etching. 7.9 x 7.5 cm. Unrecorded.

This informal, sympathetically observed portrait of a young man owes its charm to its carefree air and subtle use of light. Equally lively is the psychological characterization of the sitter, who jauntily wears a soft, broad-brimmed hat and his hair twisted into a ponytail at the nape of the neck. The free, vigorous use
of diagonal parallel hatchings and fine stippling are reminiscent of the etching method of Joachim Martin Falbe, so that an attribution to this artist seems plausible. The Portrait of a Man Wearing a Plumed Beret Gazing into the Distance (Soldan 16) shows a similarly concentrated etching technique and a comparable chiaroscuro effect on face and clothing, which is achieved by the clever use of the white paper tone. It may be a portrait of the artist’s young fellow painter, Christian Bernhard Rode, who was about twenty-five when this etching was done.

Joachim Martin Falbe was trained by Johann Harper and Antoine Pesne, whose close collaborator he was for fifteen years. Falbe was a talented society portrait painter in Berlin during the era of Frederick the Great and his work was much in demand. In 1764 he became a member of the Berlin Academy. Falbe’s printed oeuvre is small and rare. All of his prints were made during a period of only two years between 1750 and 1752, suggesting that printmaking was merely a sideline. Stylistically, Falbe is indebted to his contemporaries Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich (1712–1774) and the French printmakers of the Rococo period.

An excellent, nuanced and tonal impression with narrow, even margins around the platemark. In perfect condition.

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