JOHAN JOSEPH ZOFFANY, R.A.
1733 - 1810
THE ARTS IN WAR
inscribed the Arths in Warr [sic] (lower centre) and bears inscription in brown ink,(the Arts in War) (lower left)
black and white chalk on grey paper
unframed: 40 by 27cm., 15¾ by 10½in.
framed: 58 by 45cm., 22¾by 17 3/4in.
Executed circa 1798.
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Not examined unframed. Light stains, bottom right and bottom left corners. One or two other very minor spots, but overall condition of sheet otherwise good, and chalk very good and strong. Sold in a modern giltwood frame.
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Major-General Claude Martin (1735-1800)
Benjamin Wolff (1790-1866) Collection, until sold
'The Wolff Collection' Sale, Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, 30 May 2018, part of lot 437
London, Andrew Clayton-Payne, From London to Lucknow, A Re-Discovered Collection of Drawings by Johan Zoffany (1733-1810), 2019, cat. no.10
Zoffany’s gift: 1799
Exceptionally, this sale includes fourteen works on paper by Johan Zoffany, R.A (lots, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 42, 43, 70, 71, 89, 90, 91, 103 and 104). The drawings once formed part of a larger group of fifty-three works that Zoffany assembled in the late 1790s and that, in 1799, he sent to India for the attention of his old friend Major-General Claude Martin (1735-1800), a Frenchman whom he had met while working on the subcontinent during the previous decade.
Zoffany’s drawings for Martin were – as with the present group of fourteen – diverse in theme. With images derived from the biblical, mythological, historical and modern worlds, as well as a number of sensitive and intimate portraits, it is thought that the contents of his gift were designed to reflect both men’s interests, humours and tastes.
Claude Martin died in 1800 with no heirs, so his executors arranged for his extensive collections to be sold. The drawing’s next documented owner was Benjamin Wolff (1790-1866), a brilliant Danish lawyer, who lived in Calcutta between 1817 and 1829. During his time in India, Wolff amassed a great fortune and also began to build what would become one of Denmark’s most revered art collections. In 1829, he moved back to Denmark and bought a substantial house called Engelholm Manor on southern Zealand. Here, he housed his collections which, by the end of his life, comprised more than 2,000 drawings from both the European and Indian schools.
After his death in 1866, Wolff’s drawings remained with his descendants for a further five generations. In May 2018, Brunn Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen held a major sale within which the Zoffanys appeared as one lot and were acquired by the present owner. Despite the fame of Wolff’s collection, its contents had never been published and, until that point, scholars had been unaware of the existence of Zoffany’s drawings. Their re-emergence has caused great excitement in academic circles, as not only does the group triple the number of known surviving works on paper by Zoffany, but the images themselves also act as windows into the mind of one of the greatest artists of the Age of Enlightenment.
In his powerful drawing, which is full of movement and energy, Zoffany shows Mars, the god of war and his companion Alecto, the Fury responsible for anger, swooping down in a violent attack on the personifications of painting, music and literature.