BAYER, Johann Christoph (1738-1812). A White Primula Auricula with Caterpilla. Nuremberg: ca 3rd and 4th quarters, 18th-century.
Single sheet vellum (11 2/8 x 8 inches). A fine original watercolour and body colour drawing of a white long-stemmed Primula Auricula with a large orange and black caterpilla, probably a fratillary, winding around the stem, on a prepared brown ground, signed "Christoph Bayer pinx", lower right.
Johann Christoph Bayer, studied as a painter of flowers with the celebrated Dietsch family in Nuremberg until 1768, when he went to Copenhagen. Between 1776 and 1804 he worked at the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Factory, where he is most famous for working on the Flora Danica service between 1790-1802. It was originally intended as a gift from the Danish Royal Family to Zarina Catherine II of Russia. Unfortunately, she died before the dinner service was completed and therefore the Flora Danica remains in the Danish royal family's possession.
When Bayer was living and working there Nuremberg was, apart from London, the largest centre of botanical art in Europe, thanks largely to the scholarly patronage of Dr. Christoph Jakob Trew (1695-1769), one of the earliest supporters of Georg Dionysius Ehret. Johann Israel Dietzsch (1681-1754) had seven children who became artists, whose work is characterized by the dark prepared ground typical of the Nuremberg School.
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 centersof botanical art in the world, and the Dietzsch family was one of the most noted of the era.