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Johann Adam Klein

(1792 Nuremberg – 1875 Munich)

The Wife of the Metal Goods Manufacturer Joseph Feil; the Metal Goods Manufacturer Joseph Feil. Two etchings, each measuring 17.6 x 13.3 cm. approx. Circa 1814–15. Jahn 150 II, 151 II.

The printmaker, lithographer and painter, Johann Adam Klein, is mainly known for his animal studies and rural genre scenes which reveal a sober, realistic approach. His unerring and straightforward sense of reality makes Klein a characteristic representative of the Biedermeier period. The artist acquired his considerable drawing skills in the course of numerous study trips and walking tours undertaken as a young man in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Klein’s main interest was the rendering of horses and domestic animals, but he also recreated scenes from the period of the Napoleonic wars and produced characterizations of foreign types of people. Among his etchings portraits are a rarity. C. Jahn, the author of the catalogue raisonné of his printed oeuvre that appeared in 1863, described the two present portraits, executed circa 1814/15 during the artist’s early period in Vienna, as being extremely rare. The Feils are shown bust-length in profile. The neatly etched portraits are rounded off at the bottom and set off at the top against a neutral background. The portraits may have had a commemorative function, as Antonie Feil, née Kammerhuber, had died in Vienna on 19 November 1814. Her portrait differs from that of her husband in that it is drawn with greater delicacy and psychological sensitivity. Klein has taken great care in forming the contours of forehead, nose and mouth; fine stippling is used to lend the face fullness and depth. A touch of lightness is added by the girlish, almost classical hairstyle with its playful ringlets at the temples. The hair is drawn into a knot at the back and kept in place by a narrow band tied in a feminine bow. In their simplicity and soberness of characterization the two etchings are excellent examples of the application of bourgeois realism to the art of portraiture.

Very fine, clear impressions with margins. Slightly foxed, minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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