Georg Platzer’s The Artist’s Studio Acquired by the Cleveland Museum

Johann Georg Platzer (1704-1761)
The Artist’s Studio, year 1740-1750
Oil on Copper - 41.90 x 60 cm
Cleveland, Museum of Art
Photo : Cleveland, Museum of Art

23/7/12 - Acquisition - Cleveland, Museum of Art - The Cleveland Museum of Art recently acquired The Artist’s Studio from the Colnaghi gallery in London, a painting on copper by the Austrian Johann Georg Platzer (ill.).
The work illustrates the different stages in the creation of a painting. In the right part of the background, some students are drawing a live model ; in the forefront a woman is grinding colors ; on the left, a young artist who painted Susanna and the Elders has no doubt used the young woman sitting in front of him as his model. Finally, in the center, an elderly man, either an art lover or critic, is looking closely at a Bacchanale in a gilt frame, while its author is standing, nonchalantly leaning on the painting and eyes the spectator. This is probably Platzer himself, the framed canvas being in fact very close to some of his compositions such as a Bacchus and Ariadne from the Louvre. There are various works hanging on the walls, including a Satyr and the Peasants in the manner of Jacob Jordaens and a drawing after Rubens. On the floor, drawings and engravings spill out of a box, one of them showing the name Spranger.
Another painting by Platzer, also offered by the Colnaghi gallery shows a very similar composition to this one, with the same figures in the same space, surrounded by the same artistic references. The theme of the artist’s studio appears often in his works, at times in companion pieces with a sculptor’s studio, such as the one residing at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.
This canvas can also be seen as an allegory of the five senses : the painting of the Woman Playing the Mandolin evokes hearing, the still life with flowers alludes to smell, the sense of taste is represented by the wine brought by the servant and the glass held up by the young painter, while the ground colors correspond to touch. Sight is of course the image itself, presented to viewers with its many details.

The Artist’s Studio is characteristic of Platzer, a student of Joseph Anton Kessler, then of his uncle Christopher Platzer, part of the Austrian Baroque movement who produced many copper paintings, small works showing collections, in the Dutch tradition. He was influenced by late Mannerism, that of the Prague school at the court of Rudolf II, practiced notably by Bartholomeus Spranger or Hans von Aachen. Besides also some religious paintings, Platzer was interested particularly in society gatherings and "fetes galantes", either mythological or not, teeming with human figures, accessories and drapery effects. The copper allowed him to produce brilliant chromatic shades, in a refined palette, a miniaturist technique reflecting the influence of the fijnschilders from the 17th and 18th century Leiden school.

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Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, lundi 30 juillet 2012

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