Verification: 30793b9ef56f65e0

ANTON GRAFF

PORTRAIT OF A GENTLEMAN

ANTON GRAFF
WINTERTHUR 1736 – 1813 DRESDEN

Oil on canvas
76 x 60 cm / 91 x 73 in (framed 29.9 x 23.6 cm / 35.8 x 28.7 in)

There are masters whose work is incredibly sensitive to the spirit of the time. Their inner tuning fork senses with particular acuity those vibrations that characterise the era. For 18th-century art in Germany, for the German Enlightenment, Anton Graff was such a master. Born in Winterthur, Switzerland in 1736, he displays his artistic talent quite early. Although he received his first lessons in his native town of Winterthur and Augsburg, Graff took decisive trips to Munich. In Munich, through his acquaintance with the art of his two elder contemporaries Joseph Vivien and Georges Demarees, Anton Graff discovers a portrait of high style. The manner developed by Graff combined French aristocratic naturalness with German precise psychological characterisation.
Recognition came quickly to Graff and as early as 1766 he was invited to become the court portraitist in Dresden (this position had been vacant for some years after the death of Louis de Silvestre in 1760) and to teach the portrait class at the Dresden Academy of the Arts. It is with Dresden that the artist's fate is linked from that moment on. In Dresden he would paint his best portraits, in Dresden he would buy a house and found a family, in Dresden he would leave this mortal world in 1813 (leaving his two daughters 40 000 thalers of inheritance).
"Portrait of a Young Man", recently purchased by the Wladyslaw Maximowicz Gallery, can be called one of the best male portraits in Anton Graff's oeuvre. The appearance of this painting is a great discovery and a good addition to the creative heritage of the artist. In terms of its stylistic and compositional qualities the portrait can be dated to around 1780-85, the period of the artist's greatest flowering.
It is interesting to note that at the same time the artist painted the portrait of Georg Friedrich von Martens, Professor of Natural History at the University of Göttingen. The portrait of Georg Friedrich von Martens has a mirrored composition and, remarkably, an absolutely identical costume. It is tempting to assume that the works were created almost simultaneously and depict people from the same environment.

Wladyslaw MAXIMOWICZ, 
Bratislava, 2022

PROVENANCE
Private collection. Spain

RELATED LITERATURE
Berckenhagen, Ekhart: Anton Graff – Leben und Werk. Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, Berlin, 1967 (catalogue raisonné)
Marc Fehlmann und Birgit Verwiebe (Ed.): Anton Graff: Gesichter einer Epoche. (Exhibition catalogue: Museum Oskar Reinhart, Winterthur; Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.) München: Hirmer, 2013.

MUSEUMS
Winterthur, Museum Oskar Reinhart; Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie; Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen; Warszawa, National Museum; Tallinn, Kadriorg Palace; Wroclaw, National Museum.

Base: Canvas

Epoque: XVIII century

Genre: Portrait

School: Swiss

School: German

Technic: Oil

See also
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