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A Scholar in his Study. Etching. 25.2 x 30.1 cm. Wurzbach 5.
The etcher, Johannes Bemme, was apprenticed to his father, the goldsmith and medal engraver, Adriaan Jansz. Bemme (1753–1831) and later studied in Rotterdam under the portraitist, August Christian Hauck, as well as the better-known painter and draughtsman, Dirk Langendijk. After his father died, Bemme moved to The Hague, where he worked mostly as a medal maker, although he also had a sideline as a reproductive engraver.
The present composition is based on a painting by Michiel Versteegh (1756–1843), a contemporary painter from Dordrecht who produced genre scenes in the style of the Dutch masters of the Golden Age. Executed in a meticulously detailed etching technique, our impression is an incomplete trial proof which is very different in many respects from the final state. The background is still completely white, for instance, and there are as yet no narrow hatching patterns on the globe holder or the folios to the right of it. In the final version the scholar is pictured in an atmospheric night-time setting in which the only source of light is a flickering candle. The trial proof, by contrast, owes its charm to the infinito and the very concise and evocative chiaroscuro effect.
The etching is rare, especially in this early state. A superb, crisp impression with even thread margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in excellent condition. From the collection of Th. Hippert (Lugt 1377).