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Johann Peter Wagner

(1802 Mannheim – 1847 Karlsruhe)

Pine-tree, in the Colonna Garden in Rome; Evergreen Oak from Ghigi Park in Ariccia near Rome; Cypresses in the Villa d’Este in Tivoli. Three pen lithographs after C. Frommel. 60.8 x 43.8 cm; 67.4 x 47.2 cm; 61.3 x 48.1 cm. „Nach der Natur gezeichnet v. C. Frommel 1815 / Auf Stein übergezeichnet v. P. Wagner 1822.“ Winkler 900, 8–10.

This complete series of lithographs based on drawings by Carl Ludwig Frommel is of the utmost rarity. The individual illustrations in the series are remarkable for the impressive monumentality of the composition and the detailed and very varied technique employed. The great precision and care demonstrated in the treatment notwithstanding, each print radiates the freshness and spontaneity of a pen-and-ink drawing. The intricate and very subtle rendering of the lush foliage in The Oak Tree is faintly reminiscent of the lithographs of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The composition is based on a drawing Carl Ludwig Frommel made in 1815 in the park of the Villa Chigi in Ariccia, a resort popular with the German artists resident in Rome. No less impressive is the rendering of the tall, majestic, wind-ruffled cypress trees in the Villa d’Este which dominate the picture. Two women dressed in traditional Roman costume tarrying a while in the shade of one of the trees appear tiny compared to the huge, centuries-old trees. Wagner has created a work of complete pastoral harmony in which one can all but hear the rustling of the wind in the leaves of the cypress trees. The highly evocative depictions are an emblematic embodiment of the yearning for Italy felt in the early Romantic period.

After his return to Germany the painter, Carl Ludwig Frommel, was appointed director of the Karlsruhe Gallery in 1829. By this time the Mannheim-born landscape painter and lithographer, Johann Peter Wagner, had already been working for fifteen years in the Baden residence. He had taken over the printing works run by his uncle, Karl Wagner, in 1822 and made a name for himself as a producer of lithographs which, accord­ing to Nagler, were distinguished “by their tasteful treatment”. The present series is quite literally Wagner’s magnum opus.

Very fine, contrasting and harmonious impressions with wide margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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