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Johann Adam Klein

(1792 Nuremberg – 1875 Munich)

"Formation Skating"; "Waltzing on Ice". Pen and black ink, gray and brown wash, over pencil. Each sheet measuring circa 8.8 x 13.4 cm. Signed and dated: "JAK fecit 1824".

These amusing portrayals of skaters are preliminary studies for two etchings which served as illustrations for a book published by Friedrich Campe in Nuremberg in 1825 under the title Ice Skating. A Handbook for Young and Old. With poems by Klopstock, Goethe, Herder, Cramer, Krummacher... In comparison to the final etchings, which are also enclosed, the drawings document Klein’s original versions for the graphic reproductions. Here the gentlemen devoting themselves with such elegant nonchalance to pair or figure skating are all wearing tail-coats and tophats, whereas in the etchings the clothing and headgear of the individual skaters are less uniform. Another contrast with the final version is that the landscape staffage here is rendered only sketchily. Klein was a skilled and meticulous draughts man. The portrayals are executed in careful and stylish penmanship, the sober realism of which perfectly embodies the Biedermeier spirit. Klein shows us a peaceful world of respectable citizens happily absorbed in the exercise of their demanding pastime. The original and humorous mise-en-page convincingly renders the graceful panache of skating.

The two etchings Jahn 268 II (of IV) and 269 II (of IV) enhance the rarity value of this ensemble. They are early impressions, before all letters and numbers and before the subsequent reworking of the plates.

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