Monday, 18 June 2018

Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietricy’s etching, “Three Studies: Tritons Fighting in Shallow Water”, 1763



Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietricy (aka Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich) (1712–1774)

“Three Studies: Tritons Fighting in Shallow Water”, 1763, three plates inscribed consecutively: “19”, “20” and “22”. 

Etchings on laid paper trimmed to the plate mark with Adrian Zingg’s engraved numbers inscribed in the upper corners indicating that these impressions were a part of Dietricy’s posthumous edition arranged by his widow. (Note: after the plate was published in the Zingg edition the number was erased by JF Frauenholz for Fraenholz's later edition.)

Plate 19 numbered in extremely small numerals at upper-left corner, “19”, and inscribed at upper-right corner: “Dietricy f / 1763”. Size: (sheet) 8.8 x 14.6 cm. State ii (of iii) before the inscribed Zingg number is erased in state iii.

Plate 20 numbered at upper-left corner, “20”, and inscribed at upper-right corner: “Dietricy 1763” with the number “3” reversed. Size: (sheet) 8.6 x 14.5 cm. State ii (of iii) before the inscribed Zingg number is erased in state iii.

Plate 22 numbered at upper-right corner, “22”, and inscribed at lower-right: “Dietricy”. Size: (sheet) 8.6 x 15 cm. State ii (of iii) before the inscribed Zingg number is erased in state iii.

See the description of each of these etchings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: https://art.famsf.org/christian-wilhelm-dietricy-or-dietrich

Condition: richly inked, faultless impressions trimmed to the plate marks and with thread margins. The sheets have remnants of hinges and collectors’ reference numbers verso and are lightly age-toned appropriate to the age of the prints; otherwise they are in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing).

I am selling this set of three studies for AU$480 in total (currently US$357.62/EUR308.34/GBP270.04 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing these small but graphically strong etchings, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.




History has not been very kind to Dietricy (aka Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich) as his prints are often dismissed with comments such as the opening description of his artwork in Wikipedia: “...he was adept at imitating many earlier artists, but never developed a style of his own” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Wilhelm_Ernst_Dietrich). Ooch!

Certainly, I have to concur with this assessment in terms of this suite of three etchings of tritons fighting, as the style, subject, and even the format, is clearly borrowed from Salvator Rosa’s (1615–1673) series, “Battling Tritons”; for example see: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1448120&partId=1&searchText=Salvator+Rosa+tritons&page=1.

Looking beyond Dietricy’s disposition to cannibalise other artists’ ideas, the one attribute that to my mind gives Dietricy legitimacy as a master of his craft is the way that he employs line. In his hands, line is used to guide the eye to focus on the key features in his composition—note for instance how in each of these prints the hand of the triton holding the club is drawn with precision—while simultaneous guiding the eye away from the “unimportant” features—note the loss of detail in drawing the tritons’ tails. I mention this attribute to his style because a quick check on his source of inspiration—Rosa’s tritons—reveals that Rosa is more democratic in his use of line in the sense that Rosa portrays nearly all of his featured subjects with the same degree of focus.










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