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Martin von Molitor

(1759–1812, Vienna)

The Double Cascade. Etching. 23.2 x 30.7 cm. Nagler 50; Le Blanc 48.

We can see from Nagler’s biographical notes on the life and work of Martin von Molitor that he was a landscape painter and etcher who was highly respected during his lifetime. Molitor was trained at the Vienna Academy, where his outstanding talent made him the favourite student of his teacher, Christian Brand. He compiled an extensive oeuvre of picturesque, atmospheric landscapes in oil and gouache which were very popular in the late 18th century. At the same time Molitor was a skilled and prolific engraver, convincing evidence of which is provided by this landscape. The artist uses an extremely intricate and varied etching technique to convey the intense atmosphere of the landscape.

The water currents of the Double Cascade rush down past a massive towering rock into the depths. The gleaming sunlight contrasts perceptibly with the coolness of the water, on the banks of which a maid and two children can be seen. The varied rendering of the vegetation and the terrain testifies to the subtle powers of observation available to the artist, who achieves striking chiaroscuro effects by alternating dense hatchings with transparent areas. The poetically elegiac atmosphere of Molitor’s landscapes is fully in keeping with the zeitgeist at the end of the 18th century. A very fine impression with margins around the distinct platemark.

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