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Joseph Werner II (Bern c. 1637-1710)
Joseph Werner II (Bern c. 1637-1710)

A bacchanale

Details
Joseph Werner II (Bern c. 1637-1710)
A bacchanale
bodycolor on vellum, laid down on vellum
6 7/8 x 8 in. (17.3 x 20.3 cm.)
Provenance
Private collection, Switzerland, where acquired by the present owner.

Lot Essay

Joseph Werner, a remarkably versatile artist who produced paintings, miniatures, drawings and etchings, was born in the Swiss city of Bern but traveled widely, working for periods in Frankfurt, Rome, Paris, Augsburg and Berlin before returning to his place of birth in 1707. In Frankfurt, he met Matthäus Merian, who taught him to paint in oils, and in Rome, he came into contact with such luminaries as Nicolas Poussin, Carlo Maratta and Andrea Sacchi. Having been called by Louis XIV to Paris in 1662, Werner established himself as the preeminent miniaturist at court. On account of its exceptional quality, the present miniature may well date to the period he spent in the French capital.
The complex compositional arrangement of figures in this miniature testifies to the rigorous academic training Werner received in Italy, while the highly detailed background landscape executed in cool tones with minutely rendered figures lounging on the banks of the river points to a more Germanic element in his work, notably that of Adam Elsheimer. As with other miniatures that can be dated to the mid-1660s, including the exceptional Apollo and Daphne of 1665 in the collection of Jean Bonna (see S. Alsteens, et al., Raphael to Renoir: Drawings from the Collection of Jean Bonna, exhibition catalogue, New York and Edinburgh, 2009, pp. 142-144, no. 64), Werner staged the main narrative in a shallow foreground space in which the protagonists are placed parallel to the picture plane. The lively, playful atmosphere of the youthful cavorting figures is emphatically conveyed by Father Time, who slumbers the day away from his perch in the clouds.

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