Jean George Köpp

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Jean George Köpp
ca. 1740-1800
Scene for the "Ballet du Philosophe"
ca. 1758
Pen and watercolor on paper.
12 x 18 1/2 inches (305 x 471 mm)
Gift of Mrs. Donald M. Oenslager, 1982.

As noted by Bruce Alan Brown, this sheet is from a set of drawings, originally about 28 in number, prepared by various artists for Count Giacomo Durazzo, (1717-1794) director of the imperial theaters in Vienna between 1754 and 1764; he later assembled a huge collection of old-master prints and drawings for Prince Albert of Sachsen, which became the core of the modern Graphische Sammlung Albertina. (Durazzo also put together an equally large collection for himself, which was sold at auction in Stuttgart in 1872.) The 28 drawings depict stage works--mainly ballets--created during Durazzo's tenure in Vienna and seem to be mostly after-the-fact documentation of performances, rather than preparatory drawings. There is another sort of retrospective collection (now at the Biblioteca nazionale universitaria in Turin) that was created at his behest, of rehearsal part-books (two violins and “basso”) for some three dozen ballets by the choreographer Franz Hilverding and the composer Franz Starzer, works likewise created under Durazzo's direction. (He claimed that he often suggested the subject matter for ballets.) The drawings of ballet are invaluable documentation of pantomime ballet in one of the main sites of its creation as a dramatic genre, and include views of early ballets by Gasparo Angiolini and Christoph Gluck, creators of the epoch-making ballet Le Festin de pierre, ou Don Juan of 1761. As noted by Marian Hannah Winter in her 1974 book The Pre-Romantic Ballet (p. 100), these drawings from the so-called “Durazzo Collection” were offered for sale to the Italian dance historian Walter Toscanini before the war, but he was unable to buy them, and after the war he no longer remembered the name of the dealer who had sent him photographs. A number of the drawings were acquired by Alberto Sciolla in Rome, but these can no longer be traced. Since that time, musicologists and dance historians have known the drawings only from Toscanini's photographs (now at the New York Public Library) and from a set of photos at the Derra de Moroda Dance Archive, at the Paris Lodron Universität Salzburg.
Bruce Brown has also noted that this is almost certainly a ballet by Hilverding and Starzer from 1758, from the Vienna Kärntnertortheater: either Le Philosophe à la campagne (Gumpenhuber lists titles in French even for ballets in the German theater; these entries are from Harvard MS Thr 248), from 2 May, or Le Philosophe amoureux from 15 July, although these might be one and the same work under variant titles. At Český Krumlov there is a set of orchestral partbooks for Il Philosofo [sic] amoroso.


Inscribed at lower right, "designeur, Jean George Köpp".

Alte Und Neue Graphik, Berlin; acquired in 1966 by Donald M. Oenslager.
Associated names: 

Oenslager, Donald, 1902-1975, former owner.

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