Gerson Digital : Germany II


5.2 Genre Painting

Genre painting finds the connection to the Dutch masters in an easier and more natural fashion, in the same way that many portraitists became Dutch spontaneously, when they liberated themselves from the official court portrait, in order to paint daily life or ‘ordinary people’, like themselves or their colleagues. Philipp Jacob Nickhl, a Kupezky pupil active in Salzburg in the 1740s, painted among others a series of the Five Senses, which is not only well depicted spatially, but even in one case copies a Dutch composition [1-3].1

The Saxon Basilius Grundmann (1726-1798) learned the Dutch way from his teacher Dietrich, after whose etchings he painted. He was active in Vienna and Hungary in the 1760s and created very curious genre paintings, that show a mixture of Adriaen van Ostade and Frans van Mieris [4-6].2 Dutch engravings by Cornelis Visscher II supplied him with a depiction of the Seller of Rat Poison and from David Teniers II and Jan Josef Horemans I he got suggestions for pictures with kitchen scenes and larders.

possibly Philipp Jacob Nickhl after Johann Heinrich Schönfeld
Man playing a violin: Hearing, dated 1743
canvas, oil paint 105,5 x 89 cm
on the back : Philipp Jacob Nickhl./ 17.Pinxit.43
Salzburg, Salzburg Museum

Johann Heinrich Schönfeld
Feeling, c. 1655
canvas, oil paint 99 x 77 cm
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv./ 2297

Johann Heinrich Schönfeld
Hearing, c. 1655
canvas, oil paint 100,3 x 78,8 cm
Christie's (New York City) 1986-06-04, nr. 86

Basilius Grundmann
Woman looking out of a window
panel, oil paint 34 x 26 cm
Dorotheum (Wenen) (Vienna) 1956-03-15 - 1956-03-17, nr. 49

Basilius Grundmann
Man looking out of a window
panel, oil paint 34 x 26 cm
Dorotheum (Wenen) (Vienna) 1956-03-15 - 1956-03-17, nr. 49

The ‘Viennese Dorner’, however, was Adam Braun (1748-1827). He framed elegant scenes in the taste of Jacob Ochtervelt and Michiel van Musscher [7-8] with a stone window sill after the recipe of Frans van Mieris and Gerard Dou [9]. Just as with these Leiden painters, young Viennese women, with some grapes, or some dead or alive creature in their hand, look smiling out of a window surrounded with intertwined flower garlands [10].3

Basilius Grundmann
Interior of a junk shop
panel, oil paint 44 x 50 cm
Napels, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte, inv./ 84513

Adam Braun
A newly married couple
copper, oil paint 54,5 x 49,5 cm
lower right : A. Braun
Dorotheum (Vienna) 2011-04-13, nr. 704

Adam Braun
Gallant helper, dated 1785
canvas, oil paint 60 x 50 cm
lower right : A. Braun fec. 1785
Vienna, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, inv./ 2762

Adam Braun
A young woman peeling an apple, dated 1786
copper, oil paint 30 x 26 cm
location unknown : A. Braun 1786
S. Kende (Vienna) 1918-05-15 - 1918-06, nr. 37

Adam Braun
A young woman with a parrot and dogs in a window, dated 1794
copper, oil paint 30 x 26 cm
lower right : A. Braun pinxit 1794
Albert Kende (Vienna) 1934-11-12 - 1934-11-14, nr. 350

The painters of merry companies Franz Christoph Janneck and Johann Georg Platzer belong to another type of Dutch genre painting, in which Dutch, Flemish and French elements merge. With Johann Georg Platzer (1704-1761)4 one thinks first of the Dutch painters of merry companies Anthonie Palamedes, Pieter Codde and Jacob Duck, but the handwriting of Platzer is much more lively and ornate and the contrasts in light and shadow alternate in a playful Rococo banter [11-12].

His playful, mythological paintings, which are nothing but a revitalization of the art of the Mannerists like Joachim Wtewael, brought him the name of an ‘Austrian Goltzius’ [13-15]. Furthermore he must have known and used Flemish genre paintings, from Hans Rottenhammer and Jan Brueghel [16] until Theodor Rombouts and Jan Thomas [17-19], while other paintings show clearly more connections with the art of Sebastiano Ricci. But all the time we recognize in the overcrowded and packed compositions the minor master of Rococo, who feels at home with Adriaen van de Venne as well as with Jan van Balen. Incidentally there are small paintings by the younger Zick, which tell an equally naïve and blithe tale.

Johann Georg Platzer
The concert, c. 1750
copper, oil paint 58 x 84,4 cm
location unknown : J. G. Platzer
Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, inv./ Gm 1321

Johann Georg Platzer
The artist's studio
copper, oil paint 48,5 x 65,6 cm
lower left : J.G. Platzer
Dorotheum (Vienna) 2016-04-19, nr. 61

Johann Georg Platzer
An orgiastic party in a court theatre
copper, oil paint 58,5 x 84,5 cm
Saint Petersburg (Russia), Hermitage, inv./ GE 1350

Johann Georg Platzer
Scene in a bathing house: Allegory of Summer, 1731-1735
copper, oil paint 38 x 59 cm
Minneapolis (Minnesota), Minneapolis Institute of Arts, inv./ 61.4

Johann Georg Platzer
The Courtship of Venus and Adonis
copper, oil paint 48 x 64 cm
Rio de Janeiro, Museo Histórico e Diplomâtico do Palâcio Itamaraty

attributed to Josef Orient and Johann Georg Platzer
The Judgement of Paris, probably 1730s
panel, oil paint 44,1 x 65 cm
Barnard Castle, The Bowes Museum

Johann Georg Platzer
Conversation piece with lute player, c. 1740
copper, oil paint 18,5 x 24,2 cm
lower right : J. G. Platzer
London/New York, art dealer Colnaghi

Johann Georg Platzer
Card Player (Ace is Trump), between c. 1723-1728
copper, oil paint 22 x 32 cm
Vienna, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, inv./ 4098

Johann Georg Platzer
Making avances after the meal, between c. 1723-1728
copper, oil paint 22 x 32 cm
lower left : J. G. Plazer
Vienna, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, inv./ 4093

Franz Christoph Janneck (1703-1761), who had worked in Southern Germany and Frankfurt also, is in his genre scenes [20-22] and landscapes even more Flemish and less witty than Platzer.5 He sometimes copied compositions by Rubens and used them in more or less the same way as the Frenchman Antoine Coypel [23-24].

Franz Christoph Janneck
Elegant company dining in a garden
copper, oil paint 35,4 x 47 cm
Bayreuth, Staatsgalerie im Neuen Schloss Bayreuth, inv./ 1609

Franz Christoph Janneck
The Uriscopist
copper, oil paint 31,7 x 22,8 cm
Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Chemical Heritage Foundation, inv./ FA 2000.001.275

Franz Christoph Janneck
Interior with company in historical clothing
copper, oil paint 44,7 x 45 cm
Sankt Pölten, Niederösterreichische Landesmuseum, inv./ A 284/86

Franz Christoph Janneck
Esther swoons in front of Ahasuerus (Esther Apocryphia 15:7)
copper, oil paint 44,3 x 59 cm
Dorotheum (Vienna) 2016-04-19, nr. 93

Franz Christoph Janneck
Worshipping the golden calf
copper, oil paint 39 x 58 cm
lower right : F.C. Janneck
Dorotheum (Vienna) 2012-04-18, nr. 604


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] Von Radinger 1910-1911), p. 124, 126-127, ill. Hearing of 1743 in Salzburg is a copy after Bartholomeus van der Helst in Philadelphia (De Gelder 1921, no. 239). [Van Leeuwen 2018] According to Von Radinger 1910-1911 and Pée 1971 (p. 219-200, nos. K22-K26, fig. 182-186) the collection of the Archbishop of Salzburg contained a series of five paintings with the five senses by Johann Heinrich Schönfeld from c. 1655, which was copied in 1743 by a further unknown local artist, Philipp Jacob Nickhl, for the Leopoldskroner Galerie. At an unknown moment this original series was lost; the Nickhl copies ended up in the Salzburg City Museum in 1910 or earlier. However, despite the inscription ‘’Philipp Jacob Nickhl 17 Pinxit 43’ on the back of Hearing (which should be checked), comparison of the images give reason to believe that the painting which was in 1910 in Salzburg, is identical to the painting which was in Philadelphia as Bartholomeus van der Helst in 1921 (not in Van Gent 2011) and auctioned in New York in 1986 as attributed to Sebastien Bourdon. The work must have been relined when it was sold to America before 1921. Also Feeling showed up as an authentic painting by Johann Heinrich Schönfeld in the database of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, where it was documented in 1886. It has not been described in previous collection catalogues of the museum. It seems there only was/is one series, which was scattered after 1910-1911, probably only by the hand of Schönfeld. The meaning of the inscription of Philipp Jacob Nickhl still is a mystery. Could he have been a restorer, who treated the painting in 1743?

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] Paintings in Naples. [Van Leeuwen 2018] Alinari photographs in the Witt Library. The engraving of the Rat Poison Seller: RKDimages 291589. Wi did not find a related composition.

3 [Van Leeuwen 2018] Several copies after Dutch examples in RKDimages.

4 [Gerson 1942/1983] On Platzer: Agath 1929; Agath 1932. [Van Leeuwen 2018] Krapf 2014.

5 [Van Leeuwen 2018] On Platzer and Janneck: Juffinger et al. 1996. The biography of Janneck by C. Pucher in Juffinger et al. 1996, p. 8-13. The first example of a genre painting by Janneck is inspired by Gerard Dou and the Leiden finepainters, which indeed is an exception in his work. For his landscapes, see § 5.4.

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