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José Madrazo y Agudo

(1781 Santander – 1859 Madrid)

Half-length Portrait of Johann Christian Reinhart against an Italian Landscape. Etching. 15.4 x 10.8 cm. 1811.

The painter and etcher, José Madrazo y Agudo, studied under Jacques Louis David in Paris. From 1803 to 1819 he lived and worked in Rome, where he was admitted to the Accademia di S. Luca in 1813. After returning to Spain, Madrazo became a professor at the newly founded Madrid Art Academy in 1823. Five years later he was appointed director of the Galeria del Museo del Rey (later Museo del Prado), where he prepared its first official catalogue. He seems to have maintained close ties with the German artists in Rome. In 1808 he painted a portrait of Karoline von Humboldt and Hereditary Prince August von Oldenburg.

The present portrait features the painter, Johann Christian Reinhart (1761 Hof – 1847 Rome), who along with Joseph Anton Koch (1768–1839) was among the pre-eminent figures in the German artists’ colony in Rome. In 1811, Madrazo produced two etched portraits of the artist, one showing Reinhart in half-length and the other in an identical pose with a coat thrown over his shoulder. In 1812, he used the same motif for a painted portrait, which is now in the Galleria dell’Accademia di S. Luca (see exhibition catalogue Johann Christian Reinhart. Ein deutscher Landschaftsmaler in Rom, published by H. W. Rott and A. Stolzenburg, Hamburg-Munich 2013, pp. 105–107). Heller-Andresen records just four etchings by Madrazo, from which it can be deduced that he treated printmaking as no more than an artistic sideline. The present extremely rare etching was unknown to Heller-Andresen. The Museo del Prado in Madrid has an impression in which the landscape is still drawn in pencil (Inv. No. G-4559). Our impression is a trial proof before the letters, as is indicated by the numerous needle scratches in the left-hand margin. The Hamburger Kunsthalle has an impression from a later state with an engraved signature in the plate (Inv. No. 3228).

A superb, crisp and contrasting impression with even margins. “Reinhart” inscribed in an old hand in the lower margin. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition.

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