The Baptism of Christ
23.6 cm x 12.4 cm (9 5/16 in. x 4 7/8 in.)
Martin Johann Schmidt, called Kremser-Schmidt
(Grafenwörth, Austria, 1718 - 1801, Stein, Austria)
Medium and Support:
Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Jack S. Blanton Curatorial Endowment Fund, 2003
Kremser-Schmidt was an important painter principally of religious subjects in lower Austria. His style depends upon the Venetians of the early eighteenth century, particularly Sebastiano Ricci and Gaspare Diziani. In 1773 he was commissioned an altarpiece of The Baptism of Christ for the popular pilgrimage church at Sonntagberg. One of the most capable and prolific etchers in Central Europe, he created an etching of the composition before the altarpiece was even completed. This print may have been part of an effort to raise funds for the project.
It was with this extraordinarily fresh, double-sided sheet that Kremser-Schmidt prepared the etching. He began by copying his painting on the recto (reproduced, left), then traced this drawing on the verso, and finally transferred this second, reversed version to the copper plate. This process facilitated any correction of the work on the plate and restored the eventual print to the proper orientation of the painting. Most striking, despite its technical role and necessarily restrained handling, the drawing possesses wonderfully varied color, sparkling light, and sheer vibrancy.