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19th Century Art


Joseph von Führich

Kratzau 1800 – 1876 Vienna

Vision of the inhabitants of Jerusalem before the siege by Antiochus IV. (Epiphanes). After 1844

Oil on canvas. 147 × 103 cm. (57 ⅞ × 40 ½ in.) Catalogue raisonné: Compare Wörndle 503. Glossy varnish.  [3153] Framed 

ProvenancePrivate Collection, Rhineland (acquired 1986 at Sotheby's, London)

EUR 25.000 – 35.000
USD 27,800 – 38,900

Sold for:
31,250 EUR (incl. premium)

Vision der Einwohner Jerusalems vor der Eroberung durch Antiochus IV. (Epiphanes)

Auction 340Wednesday, 1 June 2022
03:00 PM

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Literature and IllustrationNineteenth Century European Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours („Eaugronne“). London, Sotheby's, 18./19.6.1986, cat. no. 120

Between Vision and Dream

This painting reveals the providential power of art in a special way: The horror scenario of war, here still seen as a vision, leaves its mark in the pathos formulas of suffering reflected in the population of Jerusalem. Young and old, men, women and children look anxiously to the sky, flee into their homes or sink into prayer or inactive self-reflection. The traces of war are visible before it has even broken out. Joseph Führich, the most important Viennese representative of the Nazarene movement, has chosen a theme that is extremely rare and artistically demanding. It depicts a vision: According to the apocryphal Book of the Maccabees (2 Macc. 5, 1-4), a celestial phenomenon was said to have been visible over the city of Jerusalem for forty days, which terrified the inhabitants: "And there was seen throughout the whole city forty days in succession in the air horsemen in golden armour with long spears in battle array; and they were seen meeting one another, and struggling with shields and spears, and drawing swords, and shooting one another, and their golden armour gleaming, and their armour of many kinds. Then everyone prayed that it should mean no evil." Shortly afterwards, this vision became reality, for the cruel ruler of the Seleucid Empire Antiochus IV. (175-164 BC) conquered the city and looted the Temple in a haughty manner. When Antiochus IV. still wanted to subdue the Jewish population by prohibiting the practice of religion, the Maccabean revolt broke out, which led to the independence of the Jewish people. Antiochus IV was punished by God for his arrogant deeds and rotted alive. A pictorial theme of great seriousness and gravity, but nevertheless painted by Führich in 1844 for the Vienna Art Exhibition, from where the version now in the Belvedere was acquired for the Imperial House (inv. no. 2541). The replica offered here is in no way inferior to the Viennese version, but is equally exquisite in its colouring and painterly execution of the details. In this painting Führich abandons the strictness of the Nazarene line and uses the gravitas of expression that Raphael and Poussin had established as a high style for the subjects of the Old Testament. Artfully employed figure quotations from the masterpieces of ancient painting as well as expressive figures and suffering physiognomies of great intensity make this painting a masterpiece of history painting. Führich shows here in all clarity what a great painter he can be when he breaks away from Overbeck's dominance and works out his own dimensions of expression. In addition, the skilful juxtaposition of clashing cavalry combat and the suffering of the civilian population is a grandiose parable for the present day. Michael Thimann

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