DIETZSCH, Barbara Regina (1706-1783), Matthiola Incana, Ca. 2nd and 3rd quarters, 18th century

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Watercolor with gouache and gold leaf on vellum

7 x 5 ¾ ", Framed: 18 x 15 ½ "


The present composition captures with striking vividness a flower from the Matthiola incana species. The genus Matthiola is named in honor of the Italian physician and botanist Pierandrea Mattioli (1500-1577).  Matthiola incana, also known as stocks, is noted for its colorful, clove-scented flowers. A highly fragrant form of this flower was identified in the 1700s at the Brompton Park Nursery in London, giving rise to the common name of brompton stock which is still used today. From late spring into fall, these strongly fragrant flowers bloom in dense clusters in an array of colors including shades of pink, lavender, purple, white, yellow and red. Bloom time is shortened considerably in hot summer climates.

The lush texture, vibrant colors, and overall sheen of Dietzsch’s portrait of this flower gives the impression that the plant is suspended in time; its ephemeral, delicate life immortalized for eternity.

The Dietzsches were an important family of painters, engravers, and musicians that flourished in Nuremberg during the eighteenth century. The patronage of Dr. Christoph Trew, the great botanist and bibliographer, made Nuremberg one of the foremost centers of botanical art in the world, and the Dietzsch family was one of the most noted of the era. Barbara Regina Dietzsch is particularly well known for her marvelous renderings of flowers and fruit in watercolor and gouache. Employed at the court of Nuremberg, she painted primarily in watercolor and gouache and produced extensively for engravers there. Her work was of such outstanding quality that it was used by Trew and the great flower painter Georg Ehret for a number of plates in the Hortus Nitidissimis(1750-86). Indeed, even at the time of its production, Dietzsch’s art was much sought after by collectors in both the Netherlands and England, and it is recorded that some of the best known painters of the time even accepted her works as a form of payment, signaling the type of celebrated reputation she was able to attain within her lifetime—a celebration that has only continued to grow ever since.

Like most of her family's work, Barbara Regina Dietzsch's watercolors are often characterized by the use of a black or dark brown ground, and it is partly upon the basis of this that the current attribution has been based. Ehret also occasionally placed his bouquets on a dark background, but these are not nearly as successful as Dietzsch's in making the subject come to life. Various examples of her work can be found in the Broughton Collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England and in each the dark ground is present. What separates the work of Barbara Regina from that of her other family members is the remarkable clarity of depiction and skill in rendering. With unbelievable mastery and stylistic power, Dietzsch overcame contemporary estimations of women's inferiority in the field of art, creating watercolors of distinctive splendor.

For more information about this work, or other watercolors in the Arader Galleries collection, please contact Alison Petretti at 646.673.4505 or by email