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Johann Liss

(circa 1597 Oldenburg, Holstein – 1631 Verona)

Interior with Two Courting Couples and a Jester. Etching. 17.1 x 21.3 cm. Hollstein 3 I (of II).

This gallant genre scene is one of only three etchings by Johann Liss, a painter and draughtsman who hailed from Oldenburg. At the age of about eighteen Liss moved first to Holland, where he in all likelihood worked in Amsterdam and Haarlem and came under the influence of Willem Buytewech and Hendrick Goltzius. He may well then have continued his travels via Antwerp and Paris to Venice. It was there that he came across the works of Domenico Fetti, having arrived in the city around 1620/21. From about 1622 to 1625 Liss stayed in Rome, where the art of the Caravaggists and the works of Annibale Carracci and Francesco Albani exerted a significant influence on him. The present extremely rare etching, which almost certainly dates from the artist’s creative period in Holland, is clearly reminiscent of the printmaking of Willem Buytewech and Werner van den Valckert.

The erotically charged scene can be interpreted as an allegory of frivolity. The sumptuously dressed young woman on the left, probably a courtesan, is beguiled by her admirer’s melo­dious lute playing, while the pretty young woman on the right offers no noticeable resistance to her lover’s advances. A jester with a bell cap covers his face with spread fingers, a pose that symbolises his indulgence towards frivolity and questionable moral behaviour. The suggestive scene is remark­able for its masterly composition and the realistic depiction of the elegant protagonists. Liss portrays the amorous goings-on with astonishing effortlessness and confident linework. A superb, contrasting early impression with thread margins around the inky platemark, before the address of Mariette. Occasional minor repairs, otherwise in excellent condition.

9,500 €

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