Pair of gouache on vellum natural history botanical studies. Each painting is skillfully composed, with attention to color and form, as a still life picture comprised of the various flowers, leaves, and stems in a crimped tied ribbon, together with insects. The paintings are at once highly decorative with their beautiful colors, supple flower petals, and elegant compositions, but also scientific studies, with detailed attention to botanical taxonomy. The dark background (probably dark brown or black over gold leaf) accentuates the three-dimensional, trompe l’oeil quality of the artist’s meticulous style.
Barbara Regina Dietzsch was a painter of flowers and animals. Born in Nuremberg, she was the daughter of painter Johann Israel Dietzsch (1681-1754) and her brother and sister were also painters. 18th century Nuremberg was a major publishing center, and like other female flower painters working there, Dietzsch produced work to be translated into engravings. Based on extant examples of her work, she apparently was prolific as a painter as well, adopting a smooth and precise style in which highly decorative arrangements of colorful flowers were rendered against a dark background on vellum. Sometimes she painted bouquets and sometimes a single plant. The offered pair is typical of her bouquets -- ribbon-tied still life compositions, various insects such as beetles or lady bugs on the flowers or leaves, and translucent flying insects, all against a dark backgrounds.
At her death, the existence of over 100 gouache paintings of birds, insects and flowers by Dietzsch in the Grüner residence at Nuremberg was recorded. Today, the Morton Arboretum in Illinois has 72 of her paintings in its collection, and the Fitzwilliam Museum in England and Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh also have significant numbers of works by her.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Some light scattered foxing showing generally in black background areas, not obtrusive. Edges a bit worn with some minor chipping, abrasions, and creases, resulting in some minor marginal loss of black background. Some extremely minor scattered abrasion or flaking of paint. Vellum slightly cockled as usual. Minor tape residue verso from former hinging.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 8, p. 262. (Testolini) and Vol. 3, p. 267 (Dietzch).
Greer, Germaine. The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1979. pp. 246-247.
Maxted, Ian. "The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members" Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. 20 June 2001. http://www.devon.gov.uk/library/locstudy/bookhist/lont.html (20 April 2004) (Testolini).
White, James J. “Delectus Huntiana 22: A painting of onions by Barbara Regina Dietzch.” Bulletin of the Hunt Institute forBotanical Documentation 11 (2). Fall 1999. p. 10. http://www.huntbot.andrew.cmu.edu/HIBD/HI-PDF/Bulletin-11-2.pdf. (29 April 2005).