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Ludwig Buchhorn

(1770 Halberstadt – 1856 Berlin)

Die Bettlerjugend (The Young Beggars). Four etchings with aquatint, printed in brown ink. Each measuring approx. 25.2 x 19.6 cm. Not in Heller-Andresen; Thieme-Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler, vol. V, p. 179.

The painter, draughtsman and engraver, Ludwig Buchhorn, studied under Daniel Berger at the Berlin Academy. From 1797 to 1803 Buchhorn was active as a draughtsman and engraver for the Chalcographic Society in Dessau. In 1806 he returned to Berlin and in 1812 became a full member of the Academy, where he was appointed a professor of drawing and engraving in 1816. He exerted considerable influence as a teacher and numbered Eduard Eichens, Eduard Mandel und Adolf Schrödter among his students.

Buchhorn excelled above all as a portraitist and together with Johann Gottfried Schadow, with whom he maintained close ties, he ranked among the most talented Berlin draughtsmen of his day. He was also a skilled reproductive engraver and a veritable virtuoso in a large number of printmaking techniques. Among the works after his own designs is the series of twelve aquatints entitled Die Bettlerjugend (The Young Beggars), which probably dates to 1813-15. The complete series is of the utmost rarity, but in artistic terms these four sheets are representative of the entire cycle. The youngsters dressed in rags are portrayed in full figure against a landscape backdrop or with certain attri­butes against a neutral background. Buchhorn emphasises the picturesque element of their pitiful existence, thus glossing over the socially critical aspect. The masterful application of the aquatint technique, which produces striking chiaroscuro contrasts and delicate tonal gradations, is reminiscent of Goya’s Caprichos, with which the artist was undoubtedly familiar.

Superb contrasting impressions with margins. Minor ageing and defects in the margins, one sheet with minor abrasions mostly in the margins, but in excellent condition overall.

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