Traces of the Hand

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Traces of the Hand: Master Drawings from the Collection of Frederick and Lucy S. Herman

German Romanticism

Antonietta Brandeis
Czech, 1849–1920
The Knight’s Farewell, n.d.
Pen and ink over graphite on wove paper
12 1/2 x 16 15/16 in, 31.75 x 43.02 cm (sheet)
Inscription: Signed in pencil "ABrandeis" at lower right
Watermark: J Whatman
Provenance: Acquired from Luigi & Fighi, Florence, 1984
Gift of The Frederick and Lucy S. Herman Foundation, 2007.15.22

The attribution of this drawing to Antonietta Brandeis, an Austrian-born artist active in Italy, was recently questioned, partly on the basis of its medievalizing subject matter. This differs entirely from the numerous painted vedute, particularly of Venice, for which Brandeis is known today.1 Another signed pencil drawing by Brandeis recently appeared at auction, however, and it appears to support the attribution of the Herman drawing to her.2 The signatures on both drawings closely resemble hers, and the finely hatched modeling of form in pencil in both is very close. The new drawing depicts the head of a young woman in what seems to be a historicizing headdress; and her hairstyle, with a coiled braid of hair at the side of her head, strongly recalls the young woman in the Herman sheet. The delicate wistfulness of mood in both drawings and their historical treatment of subjects belong to the repertoire of German Romanticism, with its longing for a an age of chivalric sensibility and ardor, and perhaps originate in an earlier phase of the artist’s career.

John Hawley

 

1. Oxford Art Online. Accessed May 21, 2013.

2. Swann Galleries, New York, January 29, 2013, lot 128.

 

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