Hristian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, called Dietricy (Weimar 1712 – 1774 Dresden)
Two Character Studies of Old Men
Oil on card, in the original gilded oval frames and with original blue backing paper
Including frames 14 x 11 cm
Provenance: Private collection, The Netherlands
These two charming little paintings are still in their original frames and have never been touched. They are painted in the style of Rembrandt’s character ‘tronies’.
Dietrich was born at Weimar, where he was brought up early to the profession of art by his father Johann Georg, then painter of miniatures to the court of the duke. Dietrich's sister was painter Maria Dorothea Dietrich.
Having been sent to Dresden to perfect himself under the care of Johann Alexander Thiele, he had the good fortune to finish in two hours, at the age of eighteen, a picture which attracted the attention of the king of Saxony. Augustus II was so pleased with Dietrich's readiness of hand that he gave him means to study abroad, and visit in succession the chief cities of Italy and the Netherlands. There he learned to copy and to imitate masters of the previous century with a versatility that was truly surprising.
He was more successful in aping the style of Rembrandt, and numerous examples of this habit may he found in the galleries of St. Petersburg, Vienna and Dresden. At Dresden, indeed, there are pictures acknowledged to be his, bearing the fictitious dates of 1636 and 1638, and the name of Rembrandt.
In 1741 he was appointed court painter to Augustus III at Dresden, with an annual salary of 400 thalers, conditional on the production of four cabinet pictures a year. This condition, no doubt, accounts for the presence of fifty-two of the master's panels and canvases in one of the rooms at the Dresden museum.