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The Mill at the Great Oaks. Etching. 44.6 x 59 cm. 1788. Andresen 20 II (of III).
This pastoral landscape is an early masterpiece by Johann Christian Reinhart and the largest etching he ever made. The print, finished shortly before his departure for Rome in 1789, shows a landscape motif from the countryside around Meiningen, where the artist lived and worked from 1786 onwards. The scene from nature is imbued with a strong sense of lyricism. A wood of mighty oaks dominates the composition. The foliage of the massive trees is delightfully varied and minutely detailed without being pedantic. In the foreground a shepherd is leading his herd to water. A perfect pastoral harmony prevails. The bend of the gently flowing stream leads to a mill; a fisherman with his net and a man on a donkey are deep in conversation. The bull mounting a cow in the foreground is a symbol of impulsive vitality illustrating the vigour of a fertile and burgeoning nature.
The Nuremberg publisher Frauenholz was so taken with this work that he acquired the plate from Reinhart for a considerable sum. This transaction marked the start of a long collaboration between artist and publisher extending over many years. The plate was reworked creating a second state – the one we have here – no doubt in order to facilitate a larger edition. Nevertheless impressions of this print are rare.
A superb, richly contrasting and subtle impression with wide margins around the platemark. With a dedication to the Margrave of Ansbach-Bayreuth, but before the address of Frauenholz. Minimal ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.