Object Record

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Catalog number P168
Artist Chodowiecki, Daniel Nikolaus
Title Cabinet d'un peintre (The Artist and his Family)
Date 1771
Object Name Print
Description Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki (1726-1801), a German painter, draughtsman and engraver, first learned painting from his father, Gottfried who was an amateur painter, and a Danzig (now Gdansk in Poland) grain merchant of Polish noble lineage. When Daniel was seventeen, he left Danzig to work in Berlin; in 1797, he became the director of the Academy of Arts in that city. When he died, he was the most famous German illustrator of his century. Chodowiecki combined a delicate etching technique with an unerring sense of bourgeois reality. He also produced countless etchings of scenes from contemporary plays, which has enabled modern scholars to reconstruct 18th-century theatrical methods with great accuracy.

Beneath the image of this print is a French sentence that reads: "Dedicated to Mrs. Marie Henriette Ayrer, widow of the late Mr. G. Chodowiecki by her very humble and very obedient servant and son, David Chodowiecki". In 1771, he dedicated this most famous print of his family to his mother, Henriette, who had never seen her grandchildren.

Chodowiecki sits by the window on our right, peering over his spectacles at the child he is drawing. Seated at the table, his eldest son Wilhelm is sketching a horse, while a younger brother looks on admiringly. The eldest daughter, Jeanne, studies an illustrated album, while Chodowiecki's wife stands at the left, talking with their daughter. The caption to the print makes a public statement about bourgeois life and refined culture.

In the period, this fundamentally bourgeois attitude was faithfully reflected by north German artists, who transformed the French Rococo into a pedantic form of realism. This transition from traditional Rococo ornamentation to a highly objective art form led to a reappraisal of etching, which was particularly well suited to the representation of scenes from middle class life. Daniel Chodowiecki is a typical representative of this style.
Flora Zhen-Ron Kuo, in "SCHOLARS, EXPLORERS, PRIESTS, How the Renaissance Gave Us the Modern World," ex. cat. G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, February 2 - March 27, 2010, 19.
Medium/Material Ink on paper
Dimensions H-6 W-8 inches
Search Terms 18th century AD
Domestic life
Genre scene
Exhibition and Publication History * "SCHOLARS, EXPLORERS, PRIESTS, How the Renaissance Gave Us the Modern World," Curated by James M. Saslow, G -T M, Queens College, CUNY, February 2 - March 27, 2010, # 19, ill.
Culture German