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Johann Franciscus Ermels

(1641 Reilkirch, Mosel – 1693 Nuremberg)

A Rocky, Wooded Landscape with a Rivulet; A Southern Landscape with an Obelisk and Ancient Ruins. Two black chalk drawings, each measuring approx. 23.5 x 36.0 cm.

The painter, draughtsman and etcher, Johann Franz Ermels, was a pupil of the history painter, Johann Hulsmann, in Cologne. Ermels subsequently left for the Netherlands and was apprenticed to Jan Both, under whose influence he turned to landscape painting. In 1660 he settled in Nuremberg, where he was awarded the title of master craftsman in 1661. For a time Ermels worked together with Willem van Bemmel, who was also active in the city, frequently supplying the staffage figures for his landscapes. Ermels’ depictions of architecture and the architectural accessories in his landscapes reveal the inspiration he derived from the works of the painter, Johann Oswald Harms, who also lived in Nuremberg for a few years. Ermels’ small printed oeuvre includes a series of nine etchings with ancient Roman monuments and ruins (Hollstein 6–14). There is no evidence that he travelled to Italy, however, and he probably based his work on the models of other artists.

Both the present landscapes have been executed in a concentrated and subtle drawing technique, and the harmonious, pictorial quality of their composition is impressive. The artist demonstrates great finesse in rendering the lush foliage of the trees and the texture of the terrain. The soft, tonal gradations of the chalk generate a mild chiaroscuro effect and give the landscapes a sense of poetry. The atmospheric treatment is remi­niscent of the drawing style of Ermels’ contemporary, Jonas Umbach (1624–1693).

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