- Museum number
- Series: Folge der Landschaften in Waterloos Geschmack
Amongst trees, a herm with the head of Pan and a goat gazing at it; flock of sheep to right. 1764-5
- Production date
Height: 198 millimetres
Width: 178 millimetres (sheet (cut to plate))
- Curator's comments
- Text from Antony Griffiths and Frances Carey,'German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe', BM 1994, no. 62 :
These two prints (1868,1212.122 and 1868,1212.123) are plates 5 and 6 of ten etchings published as a set in 1765 (the whole set is in the Department). The first plate carries the title 'X paysages dédiés à Mr. Watelet auteur du poème sur l'art de peindre par son ami S. Gessner' and the date 1764. The publication line states that the plates were distributed through Christian de Mechel in Basle, and Buldet in Paris. Clearly Gessner himself, as a bookseller, had no mechanism for selling his prints as such, and so had to work through others.
Claude-Henri Watelet (1718-86) was a very rich Parisian collector, and himself an amateur etcher, who had perhaps visited Gessner on his route to Italy in 1764. The link between Gessner and Paris was established through J.G.Wille, who had been sent a copy of Gessner's 'Der Tod Abels' in 1758 by Johann Caspar Füssli. From Wille it passed to Michael Huber (see Introduction to Griffiths & Carey 1994, p. 19), who used it to teach the German language to, among others, Turgot, who a few years later became the French minister of finance, and it was Turgot who saw to its publication in Paris. Wille also recommended the text to Diderot (see 1849,1208.288-312). Watelet's letter of thanks for this dedication said that he "had composed new idylls in his prints", and his friend the poet Christoph Martin Wieland (see 1877,0609.1589), whose daughter later married one of Gessner's sons even more enthusiastic: "I see your landscapes as a sequence of idylls, and I think and feel about them as I they were painted with words. Your drawings are reallv poetry' (Leemann-van Elck, pp.7a.-3). In 1760 Watelet had published a didactic poem 'L'Art de peindre', which secured his election to the French Academy, and also contributed articles on painting and engraving to Diderot's 'Encyclopédie' Watelet's own enthusiastic feelings about Gessner are in his article on 'Paysage' in the 'Dictionnaire des arts de peinture, sculpture et gravure', completed by P.C. Lévesque and published posthumously in 1792 (translated into German in 1793).
Gessner wrote a theoretical 'Brief über die Landschaftsmalerei', which was published by J. C. Füssli in his 'Geschichte der besten Künstler in der Schweitz nebst ihren Bildnissen', III Zurich 1770, pp.xxxvi to lxiv, and translated into English as early as 1776. This set of prints has long been recognised as being in the manner of the seventeenth-century Dutch etcher Waterloo (see 1981,1107.34). In his 'Letter on landscape painting', Gessner listed his borrowings from earlier artists: "For cliffs I chose the large masses of Berghem and Rosa, and the drawings that Felix Meyer, Ermels and Hackert had made from nature and following her true character. For spreading distances, the grassy tracts and the distant twilight haze of Claude. Then the softly piled clouds of Wouwermans . . . Then Waterloo, whose foundation is pure nature - exactly as he found her in the countryside. For this reason he is difficult to copy. For sandy or rocky areas, which are covered here and there with shrubs, grass and vegetation, I chose Berghem" (Leemann-van Elck p.70). Gessner had access to an almost complete collection of the prints of Waterloo (and of many other artists) in the collection of his father-in-law.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1994/5 Sep-Jan, BM, German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe, no. 62a
1995 Jan-Mar, Lancaster, Peter Scott Gall, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 Mar-May, Edinburgh, NG Scotland, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 May-Jun, Newcastle, Northumbria Univ Gall, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 Jul-Aug, Plymouth City Mus & AG, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 Sep-Oct, York City AG, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
1995 Nov-Dec, Nottingham, Djanogly AG, German Printmaking Age/Goethe
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number