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Johann Ignaz Zimbal

(1722 Wagstadt – 1795 Vienna)

Ascension of Christ. Etching. 51.6 x 32.5 cm. Nagler 1; Heller-Andresen 1; Soldan (Bassenge auction catalogue 56 II, 1990) 1.

The painter and etcher Ignaz Zimbal belonged to a group of Austrian artists of the Late Baroque whose biographies have, thanks to intensive research, gradually assumed clearer contours in recent decades and whose work has consequently undergone reassessment. The best known artists of this period, such as Paul Troger, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Michelangelo Unterberger, were among the first to be assigned their rightful place in the history of art, while other masters of their generation, including Zimbal, still await a comprehensive appreciation of their œuvre.

Johann Ignaz Zimbal, the son of a carpenter, began his artistic training at the Vienna Academy in 1742 and studied there until 1745, when it was forced to cease its teaching activities for several years. In the subsequent period Zimbal continued his asso­ciation with the Academy and, in the early 1750s, took part in several academic painting competitions it organized. It is symptomatic of many artists of his generation that far less is known about Zimbal’s drawn and printed œuvre than about his paint­ing. Only five etchings are known to have survived to the present day, all of them extremely rare. Two of these five were only discovered in 1990 – the credit for the find belongs to Wilhelm Soldan.

The vigorous, expressive, differentiated etching style and the highly original portrayal of the scene are the distinguishing features of Zimbal’s Ascension of Christ. The pyramidal structure of the composition corresponds to the vertical format of a monumental altarpiece, in which the proportions of the figures seen from a low angle become increasingly distorted towards the top. The apostles situated at the viewer’s eye level are depicted in different, vividly observed poses that express their various states of mind. The artist uses stage biting to dramatic effect. The vigorous etching of the apostles gives them a striking, earthy presence, whereas the heavenly creatures are soft and diaphanous. The entire scene is full of impressive Baroque pathos and vibrant with unbridled energy. A very fine impression with thread margins around the platemark, minor ageing, other­wise in excellent, pristine condition.

28.000 €

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