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Johann Georg von Dillis

(1759 Gmain – 1841 Munich)

Little Bridge over the Isar. Etching. 15.9 x 21.1 cm. 1806. Andresen 28 I (of II).

Johann Georg von Dillis was a talented and very industrious draughtsman, whose immediate and timeless nature studies ensured him a very special place in the world of German draughtsmanship around 1800. He was appointed professor of landscape painting at the Munich Academy in 1808 and in his autobiography he says that he gave up this position just six years later because he thought young artists should see nature and not the academy as their teacher – a statement indicative of the independent, non-conformist character of this prominent artist.

Dillis gave up etching almost completely around 1800 in order to fulfil his ambitions as a draughtsman. Hence the present etching is one of the last he made. It reproduces a picture-like watercolour now in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and was previously erroneously regarded as a work by Louis Gabriel Moreau. Dillis made the drawing between 1790 and 1800, but it was not until 1806 that he completed the etching in Paris. There is a second watercolour with the same motif, but seen from the other side, called Large Footbridge over the Isar. Dillis also made an etching of it in Paris. The picturesque surburban idyll of Munich’s Au district inspired the artist to make many study sheets, watercolours and etchings which clearly reveal the influence of 17th century Dutch masters such as Salomon van Ruisdael and Jan van Goyen. A superb, contrasting impression with margins in the first state before the completion of the sky. Minor ageing and traces of handling, otherwise in excellent condition. From the collections of Thomas Graf (Lugt 2431a) and Alfred Misch (Lugt 1816f).

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