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Paul Troger

(1698 Welsberg – 1762 Vienna)

„Holy Family with Landscape Background“. Etching. 15.6 x 11.4 cm. 1721. Heller-Andresen 1 I (of II); Nagler 9 I (of II). 

This intimate, charming image after the artist’s own invention is striking for its extraordinary freedom of execution. The work is rendered in a highly painterly manner and has something almost experimental about it. Troger’s etching needle dispenses with clear outlines and a logical treatment of individual forms in favour of a spontaneously drawn pattern of parallel strokes and crosshatching of varying density in order to convey the play of light and atmosphere. Seldom does the term „painter’s etching“ apply as aptly as it does to this precious little work which, like most of the artist’s etchings, belongs to his early period. His impetuous freedom of treatment notwithstanding, Troger is in full command of his medium. This becomes abundantly clear when we look at the refinement of his printing technique. The print shows a highly differentiated use of plate tone, which gives the etching almost the tonal richness of a painting. At the top, in the foliage of the tree, the ink has become caught in the closely knit graphic pattern of the roulette, forming a warm spot of light.

Little is known of Troger’s youth and training. Of fundamental importance for his artistic development was a journey he made to Venice, where he was greatly influenced by Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, Sebastiano Ricci and, above all, Giovanni Battista Pittoni. The present print dates to 1721, immediately after his return from Italy. Troger’s rise began shortly afterwards in Vienna, where in the course of his life he produced a considerable body of work, ranking alongside Daniel Gran and Raphael Donner as one of the key artistic figures in Austrian painting in the fi rst half of the 18th century.

A superb early impression printed with tone, with the full margins. Before the address of Winkler. Minimal aging, otherwise in perfect condition.

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