Original eighteenth century engraving with the text (in French): THE READER. Dedicated to Mr. J.M. Osteri, Trader in Zurich, and Member of the Botanical Academy of Florence. By his Friend and Servant Wille. Engraved after the original painting of the same size in the cabinet of Monsieur de Jullienne, Chevallier of the Order of Saint Michael and honorary-amateur of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. Engraved by J.G. Wille Engraver of the King. An inscription below the image indicates that the original painting was the work of Dutch Golden Age artist Gerrit Douw (1613-1675). This painting is presently part of the Hermitage Museum collection in Saint Petersburg, Russia. A second inscription at the bottom reads: In Paris, at the Author’s (engraver’s), Quai des Augustins.
Johan Georg Wille was a German illustrator and engraver of genre scenes, portraits, and landscapes, born November 5, 1715 in Bieberthal (Hessen). He began his apprenticeship as a damascene engraver with a gunsmith in Königsberg. In 1736, the desire to see Paris led him to furtively leave his apprenticeship and his family. He made part of the journey on foot. His beginnings in Paris were at first rather difficult: he recounted them with the good nature that characterized him in the memoirs published by G. Duplessis in 1857. He began to build his reputation with a portrait of Marshal Belle-Isle, after Rigaud. His expression, at once supple and firm and the good taste of his interpretation, earned him the highest praise. He was recognized by the Academy of Paris on August 20, 1755. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1758, and was appointed Academician on July 24, 1761, taking an active part in the work of the illustrious organization. Wille was endowed with all the honours belonging to the Academies of Paris, Rouen, Augsburg, Valence, Berlin and Dresden. He was engraver of the King of France, the Emperor of Germany, the King of Denmark, and was conferred with France’s highest civilian honour, Knight of the Legion of Honour. He had a great influence on the development of engraving in Germany. His righteousness, wisdom and personality made him a unanimously respected individual.
As an engraver, Wille initially devoted himself almost entirely to portrait engraving, made with a burin. He later reproduced, with equal success, little genre paintings of seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish masters whose talent he particularly appreciated; he also engraved some works of his contemporaries in a similar style. His work as an engraver spanned from 1738 to 1790. He died in Paris on April 5, 1808.
Artist: Johan Georges Wille (1715-1808).
Engraved in 176.
Medium: Line engraving on paper.
Condition: Very good.
Dimensions: 40 x 28 cm. / 15 ¾ x 11 in. (visible).
Frame: 47 x 35 cm. / 18.5 x 13 ¾ in. Good condition. Glass.