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Johann Adam Klein

(1792 Nuremberg – 1875 Munich)

Painters on their Travels. Etching. 24.6 x 30.4 cm. 1819. Jahn 234 II.

This perceptive etching by Klein is nothing short of an iconic image of friendship in the period of German Romanticism. Four painters carrying luggage and artistic utensils are positioned on an elevation in front of a magnificent mountainous backdrop. The quartet portrayed are the brothers Friedrich Reinhold – wearing an oilcloth cloak and hat and with his right hand clasping a stick – and Heinrich Philipp Reinhold, who holds an open parasol. To their right is Johann Christoph Erhard, who is sat on a camp stool fully absorbed in his drawing, and Ernst Welker, who enters the scene and starts a conversation. Klein produced this work on the theme of friendship, so popular in the early period of German Romanticism, in Munich in 1819 long after the travel companions had completed their journey. They had left Vienna together in the summer of 1818 to make their way to the Salzburger Land area, where they planned to steep themselves in the study of unspoilt, scenic landscapes. However, the weather turned out to be so poor that the artists were obliged to hold their ‘academy’ at an inn and take portraits of each other. The studies which arose on that occasion served as the basis for this splendid group portrait. The mountain in the background on the right is the Watzmann, immediately in front of which can be seen the silhouette of the church of Berchtesgaden. A very fine, nuanced impression with wide margins. Minor surface soiling, slightly foxed, otherwise in excellent condition.

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