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Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian, 1793-1865)

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Please note Payments and Collections will be unavailable on Monday 12th July 2010 due to a major update to the Client Accounting IT system. For further details please call +44 (0) 20 7839 9060 or e-mail info@christies.com
PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR (LOTS 14, 31 and 58)
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian, 1793-1865)

Red and white grapes and silver tableware on a marble ledge

Details
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (Austrian, 1793-1865) Red and white grapes and silver tableware on a marble ledge signed and dated 'Waldmüller 1841.' (lower left) oil on panel 18¾ x 15 in. (47.5 x 38 cm.)
Provenance
Theodor Schebesta, Raabs an der Thaya.
Anonymous sale; Munich, Neumeister, 11 December 1991, lot 650, where acquired by the present owner.
Literature
R. Feuchtmüller, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller 1793-1865, Vienna, 1996, pp. 137, 483, no. 659, illustrated.
Exhibited
Vienna, Akademische Ausstellung, 1842, no. 95.
Vienna, Kunstforum Länderbank Wien, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, 14 September-16 December 1990, no. 68.
Vienna, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Ein Blumenstrauss für Waldmüller: Stilleben Ferdinand Georg Waldmüllers und seiner Zeit, 10 March-31 May 1993.
Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
Please note Payments and Collections will be unavailable on Monday 12th July 2010 due to a major update to the Client Accounting IT system. For further details please call +44 (0) 20 7839 9060 or e-mail info@christies.com

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Lot Essay

Few painters have so successfully applied themselves to such a wide range of subject matter as Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller. Although his naturalist and Biedermeier outlook led him to eschew the grand narratives of history and religious subjects, his oeuvre includes landscape, portraiture, still-life, genre painting, and classical mythology. All his works are notable for their extraordinarily accomplished technique, which Waldmüller successfully modulated to the different genres he tackled.

Just as Waldmüller's landscapes are defined by their subtle tones and luminous atmosphere, in particular the way they render the softness of light, so his still-lives -- of which the present lot is a masterly example -- are notable for their crispness, and a level of execution and technical brilliance in the rendition of detail and texture which stands comparison with the greatest Dutch masters of the genre, such as Jan van Huysum and Rachel Ruysch.

Like his portraits, Waldmüller's still-lives strongly reflect a Biedermeier aesthetic, celebrating the refinement and material luxury so valued by the artist's middle class and aristocratic patrons. Waldmüller approached this genre of painting with the same naturalistic eye, and keen appreciation of lighting, as he did his landscapes. In particular, the reflections on the silverware in the present lot are incredibly complex, brilliantly rendering the three-dimensionality of the repoussoir work.

Waldmüller's still-lives always avoid the uniform frontal lighting normally characterstic of the genre, in which the composition simply fades to darkness in the background. Here the scene is illuminated from the upper left, and some of the background foliage is more brightly lit than elements of the middle ground, creating a dappled effect and forcing the viewer to focus on subtleties of shade and reflection, and their role in defining outline and texture. The composition is also atypical: less centred, more naturalistic yet complex in the interplay of different objects and surfaces. Unlike other still life artists who focus on individual details to create contrasts and highlight their technical ability (an insect, lizard or small object), Waldmüller works in a more confident range of larger compositional objects, which are sumptuous, complex, yet appear simultaneously uncontrived.

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