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Johann Albrecht Dietzsch

(1720–1783, Nuremberg)

Tavern Scene with Singing Peasants and a Fiddler. Pen and black and brown ink and brush drawing in brown; white heightening. 26.9 x 23.8 cm. Signed and dated “J. A. Dietzsch inv. et Fecit. 1773.”.

Johann Albrecht Dietzsch came from a large, widely ramified family of artists from Nuremberg, whose diverse and extensive activities enriched the world of art in 18th century Germany. Johann Albrecht was apprenticed to his father, the Preisler student Johann Israel Dietzsch, and together with his brother, Johann Christoph, gave weekly soirées for artists and art lovers up to 1767. He was a talented musician who also built up his own collection of engravings. Apart from his portraits and still lifes, Dietzsch is particularly well known for his Dutch-style landscapes and genre scenes, which often reveal clear traces of the works of Adriaen van Ostade and David Teniers.

One such instance is the present particularly well preserved pen-and-brush drawing of a tavern scene that is very much in the tradition of 17th century Dutch art. A peasant and his wife are singing to the strains of a fiddler in a dimly lit bar. A chaotic jumble of boards, barrels and everyday objects adds a picturesque touch to the bare interior. Three drawings by Dietzsch on comparable themes are now in the Graphic Collection of Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt am Main (inv. nos. 1389, 1390, 1936, cf. Katalog der deutschen Zeichnungen, ed. by Edmund Schilling and Kurt Schwarzweller, Munich 1973, nos. 808–810). The present drawing, signed and dated 1773, is certainly one of Dietzsch’s finest drawn works. The intense, superbly contrived chiaroscuro effect and the generous application of concise white heightening combine to produce a work of the utmost vividness.

From the collections of Johan Conrad Spengler, Director of the Royal Museum and the Copenhagen Art Gallery (Lugt 1434, its auctioning in October 1839, Copenhagen, no. 698), and Benjamin Wolff (1790 Copenhagen – 1866 Engelholm, Lugt 420).

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