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JOHANN ANTON RAMBOUX (1790-1866)
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
JOHANN ANTON RAMBOUX (1790-1866)

Double Portrait of the Painter Konrad Eberhard and his Brother Franz

Details
JOHANN ANTON RAMBOUX (1790-1866)
Double Portrait of the Painter Konrad Eberhard and his Brother Franz
lithograph, 1822, on a joined sheet of Chinese paper on a cream wove paper support, a fine impression of this very rare lithograph, printed by Johann Anton Selb, Munich, with wide margins at the sides and narrow margins above and below, occasional pale foxing and soft handling creases, the subject in good condition, framed
Image 316 x 345 mm., Sheet 327 x 436 mm.
Provenance
With C. G. Boerner, Düsseldorf and New York, Neue Lagerliste No. 97, 1991, no. 65.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
R. Arnim Winkler, Die Frühzeit der deutschen Lithographie, Katalog der Bilddrucke von 1796-1821, Prestel-Verlag, Munich, 1975, no. 648.2.
G. Bartrum, German Romantic prints and drawings from an English Private Collection, The British Museum, 2011 (exh. cat.), no. 7 (another impression illustrated).

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Lot Essay

In this lithograph, Johann Anton Ramboux revisited his double portrait of the brothers Konrad and Franz Eberhard painted in Rome in 1822 (Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne). Ramboux had studied in Paris in the studio of Jacques-Louis David, before coming under the tutelage of Konrad Eberhard, who was professor of sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Konrad and Franz, who was also a sculptor, were members of the Lukasbrüder, or Brotherhood of Saint Luke, a circle of German artists who rejected neo-classicism and extolled a return to religious painting inspired by the art of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, a stance which earned them the pious epithet 'the Nazarenes'.

Executed to the same scale as the painting, but in reverse, the lithograph presents Konrad Eberhard in near profile on the left, flanked by Franz to the right, in three-quarter view. Both are simply dressed in smocks resembling those worn by Renaissance artists, a mode of dress favoured by the Nazarenes. The genre of the double portrait, or Freundschaftsbild ('friendship picture'), was an important subject for this group of artists, who held an idealised view of friendship as integral to the life of the artist, associating it with medieval guilds and confraternities. The romantic writer Friedrich Schlegel in his novel Lucinde (1799) articulated this notion of friendship as 'a wonderful symmetry of the most characteristic qualities, as if it had been predestined that one friend should complement the other in every way. All their thoughts and feelings grow companionable through the mutual stimulation and development of what is holiest in them' (quoted in: German Romantic Prints from a Private English Collection, British Museum, 2011, p. 46). Ramboux's subtle composition, in which the brothers are shown shoulder to shoulder, suggests this unity of character and a shared sense of spiritual purpose. In the lithograph Ramboux re-interprets his subjects in a new way, sharply delineating the contours of their faces and features with light and shade, creating a strong sense of the Eberhards' somewhat austere personalities. It has justly been described as one of the great accomplishments of 19th century lithography and one of the most striking portraits of the period.

Double Portrait of the Painter Konrad Eberhard and his Brother Franz was printed in a very small number of impressions, probably for the Eberhards themselves to distribute amongst friends. The approach of the Munich based printer Johann Anton Selb appears to have been experimental, and there was no standard edition. Some impressions were printed with an additional tint tone on wove paper; the present impression is without this tint and one of only a few on China paper. As the format of the lithograph was larger than the available China paper, the sheet was enlarged with an additional strip below, before being rolled onto a wove paper support. The fine texture of this paper perfectly displays Ramboux exquisite handling of the medium, evoking the sheen of a silverpoint drawing.

We are aware of 17 impressions in public collections. In 1975 Winkler recorded nine examples in German museums. Another one is at the Art Institute of Chicago and since then a further seven have entered museum collections. Remaining impressions in private hands are of the utmost rarity.

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