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Old Masters, Five Senses, G.S. Rosch, Augsburg, Set of 5 Antique Prints, 18th Century

$3,000

Georg Sigmund Rösch (d. 1766) (after)
The Five Senses
Johann Georg Hertel, Augsburg: 3rd Quarter 18th C.
Black and white etchings
11.5 x 8 inches, platemark
16 x 9.75 inches, overall
$3,000, Set of 5

Set of five prints showing figures in 18th century dress enacting proverbs about the five senses in fanciful Rococo garden settings, amidst whimsically elaborate and improbable architectural structures. Each print is titled in German and Latin, and contains a rhyming couplet in German, more or less translated into Latin. These captions emphasize how the senses heighten our experiences, and with the exception of the plate about touch, celebrate the joy each sense brings to life. Each engraving is labeled No. 71 in the center, and numbered 1 through 5 lower right, indicating that they were intended as a set within a larger series.

Description

Touch or Feeling
Daß Spüren / Tactus No 71-1

A strange and monumental ovoid decoration through which can be glimpsed a house, serves as a backdrop for a man chasing a youth and grabbing him by the shoulder, evidently to discipline him with the stick grasped in his other hand. The captions note that the rough touch of a firm hand sends a message that stays with the recipient long after.

Hearing
Das Gehöhr / Auditus No. 71-2

Two musicians blow into their hunting horns, one seated and one standing, on an elaborate neoclassical garden folly. They wear fine coats with ruffled cuffs and decorated three-cornered hats. The German verse says that the sound of the horn echoing in the forest increases one’s joy. The Latin verse repeats a version of the same sentiment, saying that the trumpet of the hunter in the woods or the shepherd calling the flock in the field delights the ear.

Smell
Der Geruch / Olfactus No. 71-3

A seated woman enjoys the scent of a flower from a bouquet in a basket held by the gentleman who accompanies her. The pair is perched on an ornate bridge over a narrow stream and waterfall. The German and Latin verses make the point that while beautiful flowers are pleasing to the eye, it is through the olfactory sense that they offer the greatest enjoyment, and without the sense of smell one would miss the restorative pleasure they bring to life.

Vision
Das Gesicht / Visus No. 71-4

A young woman in a bonnet sits on the grass in front of a large and fanciful freestanding wall is spied upon by a shadowy male figure who has climbed upon the wall’s pediment and stands hidden on the opposite side. The implication is that she is reading a letter from her suitor, who is watching from his hiding place to see her reaction. The German and Latin verses basically bear the same message, that the sense of sight brings joy to the heart, and without it, joy fades away.

Taste
Der Geschmack / Gustus No. 71-5

A man on a ladder picks fruit from a tree, while two boys pass beneath, one pulling a fruit from a sack around his neck while the other prepares to take a bite from one he’s holding. The German verse says that the beautiful fruit on the tree that awakens the appetite also greatly gratifies the mouth with its taste. The Latin verse more metaphorically makes the same point that our sense of sight leads us to good-tasting food: “Why are appearances useful, if not to bestow enjoyment, because the stomach listens to the eye.”

Georg Sigmund Rösch was a German artist who worked as a painter, draftsman and engraver in Augsburg and Munich during the mid 18th century.

Johann Georg Hertel (1700-1775) was one of the many publishers in Augsburg related through direct descent or marriage. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the city was a major European publishing center. Hertel’s business had its origins with the firm started by Jeremias Wolff (1663-1724). After Wolff’s death his firm was continued as “Wolff’s Heirs” (Haeres Jer. Wolffii) by his son-in-law Johann Balthasar Probst (1689-1750). After Probst’s death in 1750, his descendants divided the business and published under their own imprints: Johann Friedrich Probst (1721-1781), Georg Balthasar Probst (1732-1801) and Johann Michael Probst. Another part of the Wolff-Probst firm was acquired by Hertel, whose son Georg Leopold Hertel had married a sister of the Probsts.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases. Few short marginal tears and chips, restored. Stitching holes in top margin where apparently once tied together, now restored, and can be matted out.

References:

Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 7, p. 350.

Ritter, Michael. [Maphist] “Re: Friedrich Bernhard Werner panoramic maps of cities.” MapHist Mailing List. 6 March 2006 and 7 March 2006. List Information: http://www.maphist.info. (7 March 2006).

Additional information

Century

18th Century