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Peter Ilsted

(1861 Saxkobing – 1933 Copenhagen)

White Mushrooms (Hvid Champignon). Mezzotint on wove paper. 17.8 x 22.5 cm. Edition 30 num. ex. Signed. (1913). Olufsen-Svensson 15.

The Danish painter and printmaker, Peter Ilsted, is best known for his purist interior depictions in the style of his brother-in-law, Vilhelm Hammershøi, whose monochrome palette, limited to a few muted shades of cream, grey and brown, he adopted. Many of these intimate, timeless interior scenes are executed in mezzotint, whose soft, velvety transitions prove the ideal means of expression to adequately transfer Hammershøi’s subtle chromatics to the medium of printmaking.

The present beautiful mezzotint print is a motif after life by the artist himself, however. The seemingly casually, artfully arranged mushrooms are a small printmaking masterpiece. The different shades of brown, grey and white are gradated in the finest nuances and create a resonant, forceful monochroma­tic effect, while the fine grains of the scraper make the brown-cap mushrooms all but tangible. Last but not least, the concept of vanitas also plays a role. Soon the tasty mushrooms will be sizzling in a pan, providing the artist with a hearty meal. The etching is rare. Despite the nominal edition of 30 copies, only a few impressions have survived. A superb impression with wide margins. Slightly yellowed in the passepartout cut-out, minor staining and minimal foxing, otherwise in excellent condition.

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