Johann Evangelist Holzer (Burgeis, South Tyrol 1709 – 1740 Clemenswerth, Westphalia)
The Virgin and Child presenting the Rosary to St Dominic and St Rosa of Lima
Black chalk, 520 x 252 mm (20.5 x 9.9 inch). Framed in a carved and gilded 18th-century Neoclassical period frame and mount.
I.O. Wessner (L. 2562A, his autograph mark on the verso)
The short-lived Johann Evangelist Holzer is regarded as one of the most important 18th-century artists active in Southern Germany and Austria.1 Born in South Tyrol, the son of a miller, Holzer was educated at Marienberg Abbey but soon developed his considerable pictorial skills. At age eighteen he painted an altarpiece for Marienberg. He continued his studies in Straubing under Joseph Anton Merz (1681-1750) and in Augsburg under Johann Georg Bergmüller (1688-1762). During this period Holzer specialized in painting large-scale frescos and altarpieces in the increasingly popular Rococo style, particularly flamboyant in Southern Germany. Just before his premature death Holzer had been commissioned by the Archbishop-Elector Clemens August of Bavaria to paint frescos for the Hofkirche in Clemenswerth.
The present drawing seems to be a design for one of these altarpieces, in which Holzer specialized, although a work in oils of this particular design is not currently known. The subject depicted here is a rare one in the history of art. Indeed, it only seems to have been depicted by Holzer, both in this drawing and in an oil painting currently in the Zisterzienserstift Stams, Austria, dating to 1734 (see last image). It is possible that both the drawing and the painting were preparatory studies for a larger work, which seems not to have been executed.The careful drawing style seen in this sheet is typical for Holzer.2
The drawing was previously owned by the important collector I.O. Wessner (1851-1921), of St Gall, Switzerland.
1. Holzer has recently been given the honour of a monographic exhibition in the Ferdinandeum Museum, Innsbruck, which was accompanied by an exhibion catalogue: Johann Evangelist Holzer – Maler des Lichts, 2010-2011.
2. Comparable works are: Adoration of the Magi, black chalk, 145 x 99 mm, Karl und Faber, 30 November 1999, lot 63; Sanguinia and Melancholia, red chalk, each 310 x 201 mm, Koller, Zürch, 26 March 2010, lot 3428.Request more information »