JOHANN MARTIN FRIEDRICH GEISSLER
1778 – Nuremberg – 1853
Click images to toggle info
Landscape with a Couple on a Hilltop across from an Old Mill (Roundel) 1815
etching on wove paper; sheet 108 x 112 mm (4 1/4 x 4 7/16 inches)
John S. Phillips, Philadelphia; bequeathed in 1876 to
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts;
de-accessioned in 1985 and acquired by
Philadelphia Museum of Art
(Muriel and Philip Berman Gift in 1985; acc. nos. 1985-52-33947)
de-accessioned in 2017
Alice Rössler, Katalog der Graphiksammlung Luthardt der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen 1990; vol. 3: Druckgraphiken des 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts, no. L III, A 703
The Enchanted World of German Romantic Prints 1770–1850, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2017, no. 68 and p. 59, fig. 43
The Nuremberg artist Geissler studied with Heinrich Guttenberg. In 1803 he followed his teacher to Paris where he stayed until 1814. This earned him the occasional nickname “Paris Geissler.” In Paris he contributed to various large publishing projects engraving reproductive prints after old master paintings. During his later years he also made topographical steel engravings.
This charming and delicately etched roundel stands out among Geissler’s reproductive work and is clearly his original invention. In its center it shows an old mill building reminiscent of the architecture found in the background of prints by Dürer and other artists of his era. Although the two figures in the foreground are clearly contemporary and wear fashionable Biedermeier costumes, the scenery as a whole evokes the late-medieval period that established Nuremberg’s fame and was worshipped by the German Romantics who strived to revive it in multifaceted ways.
Geissler’s print can be seen in this context. Executed shortly after his return from Paris (he only obtained a work license in Nuremberg in 1816) it starkly differs from his earlier reproductive work and also from his later, faithfully topographic prints. The roundel must have clearly appealed to the same clientele that was eagerly collecting prints by the early German masters.
The print is rare. All the standard handbooks merely catalogue Geissler’s topographical and reproductive works.