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# 42372

Josef Grassi "Maria Caroline, Countess von Thun", re-discovered pastel portrait!!, ca.1790

4900  EUR

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An entirely unknown thus far, this work had resurfaced at a sale of the auction house "Encheres Oceanes" in Le Havre (France). It is a very important and absolutely authentic (for comparison, CLICK HERE FOR OTHER WORKS OF THIS ARTIST IN OUR POSSESSION) portrait work of Vienna's leading late-18th-century painter (also a pastelist and miniaturist), Josef Grassi.
Moreover, it is Grassi's second portrait of the young Countess Maria Caroline von Thun (he painted her first portrait in the same period, i.e. ca. 1790; see our image nr.6). His first portrait of Maria Caroline showed her as a guitar player and - unlike the pastel, which is presented here - was painted with oils.
Overall, "our" piece is the fifth portrayal of Maria Caroline: besides Grassi's aforementioned oil portrait, she was portrayed twice by Friedrich Heinrich Fueger together with her elder sisters (see our image nr.7 for Fueger's famous miniature on ivory showing her with three other sisters Thun, as well as our image nr.8 for Fueger's oil painting of the same subject). Our image nr.9 shows another portrait of Maria Caroline, which was drawn by Mme Vigée Lebrun.

Maria Caroline was born on May 10, 1769. She was one of the daughters of Franz Joseph, Count Thun (the sitter in our web #36333) and his wife, Reichsgräfin (Countess of the Holy Roman Empire) Maria Wilhelmine von Uhlfeld (for her biography, see our image nr.11). Her mother is remembered as the benefactor of a salon welcoming outstanding musicians and intellectuals, as well as the patroness of music, notably that of Mozart (she was his friend and a regular attendee of his concerts), Haydn (the latter was probably her music teacher) and Beethoven (who dedicated his "Piano Trio" (Opus 11) to her).
Raised in this favorable atmosphere, Maria Caroline excelled at singing and music (she played guitar).
On October 6, 1793, in Sušice (then - Austrian province Bohemia; now - Czech Republic) she married an English aristocrat, attaché of the English Embassy in Vienna, Richard Meade, Earl of Clan-William (see our image nr.12). After the wedding, the young couple moved to Ireland, yet soon returned to Vienna. They had three children: daughter Caroline (1794-1820), son Richard (1795-1879) and another daughter Seline (1797-1872).
Maria Caroline died on August 8, 1800.
This portrait (same as the one painted by Grassi) shows her as a (still unmarried) young woman of 20/21 years of age.

Josef (Maria Giuseppe) Grassi was born in Vienna on 22. April 1757, as the younger brother to the sculptor and porcelain modeller Anton Grassi. Their father, Ottilio, was a goldsmith from Udine, Italy. In 1768, aged 11 (!), he began studying at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, and very soon achieved great success, especially among women, as a skilled portraitist, miniaturist and later as painter of larger portraits in oil. Nevertheless, at the end of his studies, in 1791, he felt that he was being treated unfairly at the Academy when he lost a competition for a travel scholarship; hence he took the advice of some friends who were Polish nationalists and moved to Warsaw. There he became a teacher of Teresa Jablonowska and established himself as a successful portrait painter. On the recommendation of Jean-Baptiste Lampi, he even got the vacancy of a painter at the court of the Polish King Stanislaus August II and advanced to the favourite portraitist of Polish court and high aristocracy.
In 1791 the Vienna Academy elected him member of Academy for his portrait works.
When the Kosciuszko Uprising broke out in 1794, he was able to leave the battle zone through mediation of Kosciuszko, whose portrait he had painted. Together with his pupil Johann Niedermann who also stayed in Poland during that time he returned to Vienna.
1797 was obviously the year of Grassi's first visit in Castle Sagan in Silesia (now Zagan, Poland). Later stays at the castle followed. The Duchess Wilhelmine von Sagan is supposed to be the person who helped Grassi to commissions and to an Academy professor title (1799) in Dresden, where he taught along with Anton Graff. He took two leaves of absence during his stay in Dresden, one to Gotha in 1804 where he decorated a bedroom for Duke August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, painted portraits of the Duke and his wife and scenes illustrating literature works of the Duke, and another to Rome from 1808-1810 as a member of the Accademia di San Luca. From 1816 to 1821 he stayed in Rome again, serving as the "Director of Studies for Saxon Artists in Italy". At that time, however, the Nazarene movement came into vogue, and his work was ignored so he returned to Dresden. Here, he lived a secluded life without any official job, and died on 07. January 1838.
He was a bearer of the Grand Cross of Saxonian Civil Order and had a title of "Geheimer Legationsrat" (Privy Legation Councilor) which he obtained from Duke August of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg.


Condition: fairly good; in original frame

Creation Year: ca 1790

Measurements: UNFRAMED:61,0x44,5cm/24,0x17,5in FRAMED: 76,0x60,5cm/29,9x23,8in

Object Type: Framed pastel

Style: Old Master drawings

Technique: pastel on vellum, mounted onto stretcher by the artist

Inscription: -

Creator: Josef Grassi
To see other works by this artist click on the name above!

Creator Dates: 1757 Vienna-1838 Dresden

Nationality: Austrian / German

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