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Johann Michael Frey

(1750 Biberach – after 1818 Augsburg)

The Monkeys’ Concert. Etching after Gottlieb Heß.17.9 x 23.5 cm. Le Blanc 4.

The levity and humorous wit of the Monkeys’ Concert is a characteristic example of Rococo printmaking in Augsburg. The exotic ensemble, consisting of a harpsichord player, string players, a flautist, a bassoonist and a drummer, is accompanying two female singers who have the score open on their laps. In the foreground lies a sheet of music with the name of the composer, a certain ‘Sig. Cucurucu’. Frey portrays the clothing of the musicians and picturesque details, such as the allonge wigs, little lace bonnets and feather caps, with lively, fluid strokes and great accuracy. The whole radiates a light-hearted merriment and a spiritedness that are typical of southern German Rococo art. The painter and etcher, Johann Michel Frey, was active after 1768 in Augsburg, which was one of the main southern German art centres. A number of his paintings have survived, but Frey is known first and foremost as an etcher. A very fine, harmonious impression with wide margins. Slightly foxed, otherwise in excellent condition.

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