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Peter Vischer

(1779–1851, Basel)

“Large Wooded Area in Wildenstein with the Waterfalls”. Etching. 30 x 24.8 cm. 1810. Nagler 2.

Peter Vischer, a merchant from Basel, was an extraordinarily talented amateur artist who created a small and rare corpus of etchings. Apprenticed to Samuel Birmann, his prowess in the art of drawing was, according to Nagler, “of a degree of perfection not attained by every professional artist”. Vischer’s etchings, consisting entirely of landscapes, were the product of his own imagination or based on originals by Dutch masters, such as Jacob van Ruisdael and Jan Both.

The intensely atmospheric and dramatically turbulent Land­scape near Wildenstein is unmistakeably inspired by Ruisdael’s heroic landscapes. The work reflects the growing appreciation of the Dutch master that burgeoned in the late 18th century and was given a foundation in art theory by Goethe’s essay Ruysdael as a Poet published in 1816. Vischer’s precise and concentrated etching technique effectively renders the different textures of the rocks, overturned tree trunks, shrubs and foliage in an asto­nishingly nuanced and varied manner. The play of the light on this romantically animated natural scene is captured with great verve. The dense forest bows to the tempestuous wind and a narrow opening affords a view of dark thunderclouds.

A superb, contrasting and nuanced impression with margins. A printer’s crease in the lower margin, minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition. From the collection of Johann Nepomuk Seiler (1793 Munich – 1876 Kempten, Lugt 3976).

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