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Johann August Nahl the Younger

(1752 Zollikofen – 1825 Kassel)

Four Views of Johann Heinrich von Dannecker’s Marble Statue of Ariadne on a Panther. Four engravings, each measuring 24 x 17.5 cm. 1814. Inscribed in brown pen in lower margin: “Ariadne ... 1tes–4tes Blatt”.

The Stuttgart-born sculptor Johann Heinrich Dannecker was one of the most significant representatives of German Classicism. In 1803 the artist created the clay model for Ariadne on a Panther, which was to be one of his most successful sculptures. Dannecker freed the figure from its narrative context and achieved a highly original type of image in which the vigorous upward movement of the body becomes a metaphor for mental alertness. The well-rounded sculpture, visible from all sides, incorporates the Classicist ideal of a synthesis of intellectual depth and physical perfection. Even the plaster model of 1805 drew considerable public attention. Between 1810 and 1814 Dannecker produced the marble version for the Frankfurt banker Simon Moritz von Bethmann. The finished sculpture was placed in a specially made “Ariadneum” and soon came to be regarded as one of the most popular pieces of statuary of the 19th century.

The present charming set of engravings was done by the painter and printmaker, Johann August Nahl the Younger (1752 Zollikofen – 1825 Kassel). The originals were drawn by the engraver Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, who was married to Dannecker’s niece and became a professor at the Dresden Academy in 1814. Nahl, in turn, was a pupil of Heinrich Tischbein’s in Kassel and trained in Paris, Rome and Naples, being partly self-taught. The artist originally worked in a Rococo-type Classicist idiom, which circa 1800 yielded to a more purist Neoclassical approach. With great economy of means Nahl has succeeded brilliantly in transferring the cool, reserved aesthetic of the marble statue to the engraving medium. He shows four different views of the sculpture, thus demonstrating that, whatever side it is shown from, it possesses canonical beauty and classical perfection.

This set of engravings is rare and was known neither to Nagler nor to Heller-Andresen. Superb impressions with full margins. Slight traces of ageing and handling, otherwise in uniformly fine condition.

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