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Martin von Molitor

(1759–1812, Vienna)

The Fallen Tree Trunk; The Herd in the Wood. Etching, roulette and aquatint. Each 24.8 x 32.5 cm. Nagler 51, 52.

Nagler’s biographical notes on the life and work of Martin von Molitor tell us that the artist was very highly regarded as a landscape painter and etcher in his lifetime. Molitor was trained at the Vienna Academy and in view of his outstanding gifts was considered to be the favourite pupil of his tutor, Christian Brand. He created an extensive œuvre of picturesque, atmospheric landscapes in oil and gouache, which enjoyed great popularity in the late 18th century.

Molitor was also a productive and accomplished etcher, as is demonstrated by these splendid proofs. The artist uses an extremely accurate, intricate and versatile etching technique, which generates a maximum of mood and gives the landscape a highly charged atmosphere. In the first print the texture of the lush, velvety foliage and the dense and varied vegetation of the terrain are rendered with great sensitivity. Stage biting and an extremely effective application of plate tone are used to achieve very fine tonal transitions. The figures of an old woman with a bundle of brushwood on her back and a boy with a dog seem almost lost in this lonely, picturesque corner of the woods. Similar observations could also be made about the second print, even though the intimate observation of nature has to make way here for a stronger sense of space. Against a majestic background of trees a herd of cows and sheep are shown in a sylvan glade. Through a gap in the trees we can see part of another sunlit meadow, in which the vague outlines of a herdsman and a boy are visible. Man and beast are seen as part of an overwhelming, pantheistic view of nature.

around the inky platemark. Minor ageing, slightly foxed, otherwise in impeccable condition. From the Collection of Johann Nepomuk Seiler (1793 Munich – 1876 Kempten), not in Lugt.

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