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Johann Christian Reinhart

(1761 Hof, Bavaria – 1847 Rome)

“The Great Heroic Landscape, Dedicated to Schiller”. Etching on laid paper. 40.2 x 51.2 cm. 1800. Andresen 96 I–II.

This extraordinarily atmospheric, heroic landscape is a masterpiece of printmaking by Johann Christian Reinhart, who dedicated the work to his illustrious German contemporary, the writer, lyric poet and essayist, Friedrich Schiller. The inscription “Ingenio, arte, virtute illustri” testifies to Reinhart’s admiration for Schiller, with whom he was friends. The work is based on a painting the artist made in Rome in 1800 which is now in the Pommersches Landesmuseum in Greifswald.

Johann Christian Reinhart had settled in Rome in 1789 and, together with Joseph Anton Koch, he was one of the most esteemed representatives of the German artists in the Holy City. Moreover, he was regarded as one of the foremost German printmakers of his age. Reinhart left an extensive oeuvre of landscape etchings which he made in the period between 1782 and 1830; in terms of their artistic orientation they reveal an astonishing variety. Intimate landscape studies, which are remarkable for the freshness of their observation of nature, alternate with heroic ideal landscapes such as the present Stormy Landscape. The composition, which continues the tradition of ideal landscapes established by such outstanding predecessors as Lorrain and Poussin, is not an illustration of one of Schiller’s literary works, but should be interpreted rather as a “sentimental” landscape, which is fully in keeping with Schiller’s aesthetic cosmos. “Storm”, “freedom” and “struggle” are pictorial themes which Reinhart addressed on many occasions and in which the programmatic thrust of Schiller’s literary work is clearly recognisable.

Reinhart put a great deal of work into this etching in 1800 and attached great significance to it, as is evident from his correspondence with the Nuremberg publisher Frauenholz. The dimensions of this large-scale etching, which has been carefully executed with great attention to detail, correspond almost exactly to those of the oil painting on which it is based and it is the second-largest etching in Reinhart’s printed oeuvre. For a detailed assessment of the content and the iconography see H. Mildenberger “Johann Christian Reinhart und Friedrich Schiller”, in the exhibition catalogue Johann Christian Reinhart. Ein deutscher Landschaftsmaler in Rom, edited by H. W. Rott, A. Stolzenburg and F. C. Schmid, Hamburg, Kunsthalle, Munich, Neue Pinakothek, 2013, pp. 41–45. A superb, contrasting impression with margins in a state not recorded in Andresen: with the title and signature but before the address of Frauenholz at the bottom right, albeit it with his die stamp (Lugt 944). Minor ageing, otherwise in mint condition. The sheet is rare, especially in this printing quality and state of preservation.

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