JOHANN ANTON RAMBOUX
1790 Trier - Cologne 1866
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Ansicht des roemischen Amphiteaters bey Trier – View of the Roman Amphitheatre near Trier 1824
lithograph on wove paper ; ca. 380 x 500 mm (ca. 14 15/16 x 19 11/16 inches)
Zahn 27 and 31, Ahrens 8 and 9; cf. cat. London 1994, pp. 199–201
The two lithographs here are plates 7 and 8 from the series Malerische Ansichten der merkwürdigsten Alterthümer und vorzüglicher Naturanlagen im Moselthale bey Trier (Picturesque Views of the most Remarkable Antiquities and the most Excellent Natural Settings in the Mosel Valley near Trier), each containing four lithographs and published in 1824, 1826, and 1827, accompanied by a text by Ramboux’s brother-in-law Johann Hugo Wyttenbach (1767–1848), the leading antiquarian of the Trier area and its Roman history. These views depict some of the most imposing Roman remains in northern Europe, found in and around Ramboux’s native town. In line with the interests of the German Romantics, the project was originally also intended to cover Trier’s medieval buildings. However, only a few subscribers signed up and the substantial costs of the project were shouldered by Ramboux alone. It was, therefore, probably a lack of funds that prevented the completion of the ambitious project.
Ramboux went to Rome in 1815 where he came into close contact with the German Nazarenes. Like them, he discovered and admired the art of the early Italians. It was clearly under this influence that he began to work on the preliminary drawings for the Malerische Ansichten immediately upon his return to Trier in 1822. The memory of the Italian art, light, and landscape were obviously still fresh in his mind when he embarked on his project to record some of the remnants of the Roman world after his return to German soil. All the lithographs are far superior to the preliminary drawings and Ramboux went all the way to Munich to draw the final designs on the stone himself in the workshop of Joseph Anton Selb (1784–1832). As Antony Griffiths notes, this “was unusual at this time: lithography was still underdeveloped, and most artists were happy to leave specialists like Strixner or Piloty to perform this tricky task ... Ramboux felt quite differently, and even drew attention to this role: each print is lettered ‘Drawn from nature and on the stone by J.A. Ramboux’” (cat. London, 1994, p. 201).
In spite of the artist’s efforts, the prints achieved little commercial success. As a result, even individual plates are rare and sought after today. They are now recognized as the masterworks of an artist whom Thieme/Becker call “one of the strongest albeit least acknowledged talents of the Nazarene artists’ generation.”