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Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein

(the „Goethe-Tischbein“, 1751 Haina – 1829 Eutin)

A Woodland Scene with Vines and Buffalo Herd. Etching. 45.2 x 35.6 cm. Andresen 58.

This poetically idealized landscape from the series Homer, Drawn after the Antique (Andresen 21–102) served as the title page for the fourth part of the set. The series contained etchings after classical originals – statues, Greek vase paintings, reliefs and cameos – which Tischbein had begun with great personal commitment and at considerable financial expense in Naples in the 1790s but never completed.

The fertile pastoral landscape in the vicinity of Naples was intended to conjure up the golden age of Homer and evoke a carefree earthly paradise. Lush vines hang like garlands between the tall, gnarled trunks of two trees which serve as a repoussoir and direct the viewer’s gaze to the background, where a herd of buffalo ambles peaceably by. In the left foreground we see a rose bush in bloom and a field of ripening grain in which a hare is hiding. There is a wonderful contrast between the light and open treatment of the sunlit vine tendrils and the dense vegetation in the middle distance, where very close hatching patterns are used to create transitions of the utmost graphic delicacy. The foliage of the treetop blends with the striking banks of clouds, whose contours are brightly lit up by the sun. Tischbein’s garden paradise is imbued with a truly Goethe-esque yearning for the south, for a mythical cultivated landscape in which people can lead a carefree existence and be fully self-sufficient in satisfying their everyday needs. His admirably differentiated etch­ing technique creates a maximum of atmospheric concentration and lyrical naturalism and it is only right that this work should be regarded as his undisputed masterpiece (see also A. Griffiths/F. Carey, German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe, London 1994, No. 86, pp. 136–137).

A superb, differentiated and tonal impression with wide margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in impeccable condition.

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