Sunday, 11 March 2012

Studio Schmutzer (2/3)

Continuing with Ferdinand Schmutzer’s legacy today some examples of his etchings are compared to the discovered photographs. In the above photograph of his wife Alice the grandeur (and dress) rivaling John Singer Sargents (1856-1925) portrait of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw. Schmutzer used a cushion allowing a more reclining position for his wife but left it a bit clumsely in sight. 
I did my best finding the photograph Schmutzer used to create one of his most famous etchings of Rosa Kantor, a Viennese bankers daughter. It's not 1:1 but it's close. The actual etched print, a huge, impresive and never before seen 95 x110 cm. I am very curious about the different and combined techniques he and other artist put to use the photographical negatives to the etching plate. I'm convinced the negatives weren’t only “used as designing aid” as is stated in the accompanying text in the Austrian National Library but far more direct methodes were used. I found this great site which answered many of my questions and has a great database. 
In the case of Sigmunds Freud's (1856-1939) etched portrait it's obvious, Photo: etching, 1:1. In the case of composer and conductor Richard Strauss (1864-1949)  (below) it's probably the next  photo from the same sitting session I failed to find. Remnants of the cabinet survived in the background at the eye-level right-side of the etching. And the surviving original photograph had to be mirrored.  
On the other hand Pablo Casals' (1876-1973) portrait (below) was again 1:1 to the photograph.
Wether the negatives, or the copper plate, or both, before, afterwards, were (re)-worked and to what extend I cannot technically answer. Comparing Schmutzer’s work to that of other artists  a great variety of different styles and effects can be seen in next (3/3) posting. 
In the case of Schmutzers view on Dürnstein above I found the etching and a painting in oil but not the photograph that obviously is the source of both.
"Hamburg canal " proving Schmutzers talent and reputation as an important photographer. The list of examples can be much longer; Ferdinand Schmutzer was a prolific artist,  

showing in many photo's and etchings his admiration for Rembrandt (right)

The actual word photogravure however is causing much confusion because it is freely used for an array of artistic grafic expressions. From the relatively basic photographic chemical process of etching the photographical image onto a copper plate, instead of paper, to far more creative and artistic forms of printmaking. Also it is to be taken into account many examples are (still) described as etchings while it is obvious they are, technically, some form of photogravure. 

Next: other artist using photographic images and negatives creating great and famous prints.

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