Watercolor with gouache and gold leaf on vellum
7 x 5 ¾ ", Framed: 18 x 15 ½ "
The present composition captures with striking vividness a flower from the Delphinium genus of perennial flowering plants found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and on the high mountains of tropical Africa. Various delphiniums are cultivated as ornamental plants, for traditional and native plant gardens. The numerous hybrids and cultivars are primarily used as garden plants, providing height at the back of the summer border, in association with roses, lilies, and geraniums. The lush texture, deep blueness, and overall sheen of Dietzsch’s portrait of this flower gives the impression that the plant is suspended in time; its ephemeral, delicate life immortalized for eternity.
The Dietzsches were an important family of painters, engravers, and musicians that flourished in Nuremberg during the eighteenth century. The patronage of Dr. Christoph Trew, the great botanist and bibliographer, made Nuremberg one of the foremost centers of botanical art in the world, and the Dietzsch family was one of the most noted of the era. Barbara Regina Dietzsch is particularly well known for her marvelous renderings of flowers and fruit in watercolor and gouache. Employed at the court of Nuremberg, she painted primarily in watercolor and gouache and produced extensively for engravers there. Her work was of such outstanding quality that it was used by Trew and the great flower painter Georg Ehret for a number of plates in the Hortus Nitidissimis(1750-86). Indeed, even at the time of its production, Dietzsch’s art was much sought after by collectors in both the Netherlands and England, and it is recorded that some of the best known painters of the time even accepted her works as a form of payment, signaling the type of celebrated reputation she was able to attain within her lifetime—a celebration that has only continued to grow ever since.
Like most of her family's work, Barbara Regina Dietzsch's watercolors are often characterized by the use of a black or dark brown ground, and it is partly upon the basis of this that the current attribution has been based. Ehret also occasionally placed his bouquets on a dark background, but these are not nearly as successful as Dietzsch's in making the subject come to life. Various examples of her work can be found in the Broughton Collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England and in each the dark ground is present. What separates the work of Barbara Regina from that of her other family members is the remarkable clarity of depiction and skill in rendering. With unbelievable mastery and stylistic power, Dietzsch overcame contemporary estimations of women's inferiority in the field of art, creating watercolors of distinctive splendor.
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