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(Follower of) Anton Graff
Portrait of a Gentleman Poet c.1760, Antique Oil Painting, Homer Virgil Gellert

circa 1760



It is clear that the artist of this portrait was a connoisseur of the face, employing a theatrical, spot lit effect that teases out an enhanced psychology from the sitter. With its keen characterisation and highly professional execution, this is an excellent example of late 18th-century German portraiture. The sitter is shown in swift movement, seeming to pause momentarily and glance out at the viewer - an approach suggested by the man's character, full of a sense of his own worth, energetic and self-confident. In the background on a shelf there are books by the ancient Greek poet Homer, Roman poet Virgil, and the forerunner of Germany poetry, Gellert (1715-1769), who is considered one of the great reformers of his language. These books are probably a clue as to the profession of the sitter. The portrait can be dated to the 1760s based on the attire and the hairstyle. Anton Graff was born in northern Switzerland, a pupil of Johan Ulrich Schellenberg in Winterthur. In 1746 he moved to Bavaria and eventually became assistant to the court painter in Ansbach, Leonhard Schneider, with whom he produced large numbers of copies of a portrait of Frederick the Great (presumably by Antoine Pesne). In 1766 he was appointed court painter to Dresden and teacher for portrait painting at the city's Art Academy. He was also a member of the Art Academies in both Vienna and Munich. His earlier portraits are painted on monochrome backgrounds devoid of context, but his later works begin to introduce setting and surrounding objects. The emotional intensity of some of his portraiture is seen as proto-Romantic and certainly had an impact on his pupil Philip Otto Runge. Some of his later formal innovations, such as the use of impasto, are said to have had a bearing on Realism and Impressionism. Held in an antique ebonised frame. Measurements: Height 92cm, Width 79.5cm framed (Height 36.25”, Width 31.25” framed)


  • Creator
    (Follower of) Anton Graff (1736 - 1813)
  • Creation Year
    circa 1760
  • Dimensions
    Height: 36.23 in. (92 cm)Width: 31.3 in. (79.5 cm)Depth: 1.97 in. (5 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
    In very good condition having passed a quality check by one of our conservators . No work is required and can be hung and enjoyed immediately.
  • Gallery Location
    London, GB
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU119916862472

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    Rates vary by destination and complexity. We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Estimated Customs Duties & Taxes to the Continental US: $0.
    Ships From: London, United Kingdom
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 2 days of delivery.

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Located in London, United Kingdom
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