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Tuesday 23 January 2018

Peter von Bemmel’s etching, “The draftsman at the waterfall”, 1716

Peter von Bemmel (1685–1754)

“The draftsman at the waterfall”, 1716, published by Heinrich Jonas Ostertag (fl.1711–20) in Regensburg.

Etching on laid paper trimmed at the image borderline and re-margined with a support sheet.
Size: (support-sheet) 32.4 x 33.8 cm; (sheet/image borderline) 14 x18.6 cm
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline at upper left corner: “P. V. Bemel fe,” Note: the “m” in the inscribed signature has a macron (i.e. a diacritical overbar) that I suspect signifies the lengthened sound of the double “m” now used in wiriting Von Bemmel’s name. (I may be wrong about this.)

Meyer 1872-85 4 (Julius Meyer et al 1872–85, “Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, unter Mitwirkung der namhaftesten Fachgelehrten des In- und Auslandes”, vol. III, Leipzig, Wilhelm Engelmann)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Mountainous landscape with a waterfall. 1716 Etching”

Condition: a richly inked impression trimmed at the image borderline and re-margined on a support sheet. The print is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, stains or foxing). (Note: I “think” that I recall a small restoration but I cannot find this spot and so I am not sure.)

I am selling this graphically strong etching showing and artist at work in a rugged landscape carved by waterfalls for AU$219 (currently US$174.43/EUR142.39/GBP125.06 at the time of posting this listing). Postage for this print is extra and will be the actual/true cost of shipping.

If you are interested in acquiring this extremely rare etching from the founder of the younger Nuremberg landscape painting school, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Mindful that the artist’s nickname was “thunderstorm” because he liked showing the delights of lightning bolts smashing into trees and travellers getting soaked in the rain—the shameful pleasure in showing folk getting wet brings to mind the marvellous German word for such dreadful humour: “Schadenfreude”—I can see how this scene of nature’s awesome might fits well with Von Bemmel’s disposition.

What makes this landscape so special to my eyes goes beyond the display of raging water carving its way through the rugged terrain. I see the pictorial depth of this landscape as being slightly flattened as if each spatial zone were a stage flat assembled to describe the view like theatrical scenery. For example the silhouette edge of the sloping mountainside in the middle distance on the right is strongly demarked but with a void of noetic space (i.e. a gap of pictorially “empty” white paper but pregnant with imagined subject matter) in the immediate background behind it. Note in particular how the artist has darkened the portrayed forms at their edges.

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