Peter Birmann (Basel 1758-1844)
Peter Birmann (Basel 1758-1844)

A view of Villa Pliniana, Lake Como

Details
Peter Birmann (Basel 1758-1844)
A view of Villa Pliniana, Lake Como
signed and inscribed 'La Villa Pliniana. aux (?) Lac de Como. P. Birmann. ad. nat. fecit.'
traces of graphite, watercolour and scratching out
19 5/8 x 26 7/8 in. (49.9 x 68.3 cm)

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Lottie Gammie
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Lot Essay

Birmann initially followed in his father's footsteps working as a stonecutter, until he started painting in 1771. After working in that capacity in Switzerland for a decade, he travelled to Rome in 1781 where he stayed until 1790. Besides producing his own drawings he ran a printing workshop for Giovanni Volpato and Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros (see lots 81 and 82). Returning to Basel in 1790, Birmann opened his own publishing workshop which specialised in landscape prints. In 1815 he started to deal in art together with the printmaker Friedrich Huber. Birmann also trained his son, Samuel, who became a successful artist in his own right, specialising in mountain and glacial landscapes (see K. Katz et al., Peter und Samuel Birmann. Künstler, Sammler, Händler, Stifter, exhib. cat., Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel, 1997-8).

This splendid view of Villa Pliniana possibly dates from the artist's Southern journey The villa, built in 1573, takes its name from a nearby spring which was first described by Pliny the Elder (23-79). It has attracted many famous guests, among them Percy Bysshe Shelley, Gioacchino Rossini, who composed his opera Tancredi in the villa itself, and even Napoleon, who is thought to have played on the billiard table which still survives.
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