Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Jonas Umbach’s etching, “Resting Shepherd Playing on a Horn”, c.1690


Jonas Umbach (1624–93)
“Resting Shepherd Playing on a Horn”, c.1690, published by Erben Jeremias Wolff (aka Johann Balthasar Probst) and later by the heirs of Jeremias Wolff (Note: the British Museum attribute the date of this print to 1645–1700 and the Rijksmuseum propose the date, 1634–93. My attribution is based on Jeremias Wolff’s active dates as a publisher in Augsburg, fl.1686–1724, and that Umbach died in 1693).

Etching on fine laid paper with trimmed along the platemark.
Size: (sheet) 14.3 x 11 cm
Inscribed in the plate at lower left: “C.P.S.C.M. Haered Ier. Wolffij exc.”

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“A shepherd playing a pipe; seated in profile to left; landscape background. Etching” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1504202&partId=1&searchText=Umbach&page=1)

The Rijksmuseum offers the following description of this print:
“A shepherd, resting on the ground in a landscape, playing on a big horn.” (Een herder, rustend op de grond in een landschap, spelend op een grote hoorn.) (http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.collect.31983)

Nagler 149 (G K Nagler 1835, “Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon”, 22 vols, Munich)

Condition: richly inked impression in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing) trimmed along or close to the platemark. There are remnants of mounting (verso).

I am selling this rare and (judging by the crispness of the impression) early/lifetime impression for AU$224 (currently US$177.59/EUR154.09/GBP136.26 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this remarkable 17th century print by an artist famed for his small etchings and for his skill in biting his printing plates only once in acid, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


In my five earlier posts featuring Umbach’s etchings I leaned the discussions more towards technical issues underpinning the prints than describing with the age in which the prints were made. Mindful that I have avoided this topic up to now, I thought I might offer a few personal thoughts about the age of the German Baroque in which Umbach’s work is usually consigned.

At first glance, this print showing a resting shepherd making music may not seem like it would fit well with the lively spirit of the Baroque period style, but it does. For instance, the subject itself is all about transcendence beyond the everyday world to a musical dimension filled with the graphically expressed sounds played by the young man. Going further, the curving arch of the tree on the right creates a swirling rhythm that leads through the similarly curved torso of the shepherd to be released upwards following the tree in the distant centre of the composition into the sky. For me, this strong wave-like rhythm marks a transition from the temporal world occupied by the youth to the transcendent world of the ether. In short, what I wish to suggest is that this print is underpinned with the Baroque notion of taking a viewer from the ordinary world of everyday concerns to the extraordinary world of sound in bold spiralling spirit-lifting movement.






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