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CHRISTIAN WILHELM ERNST DIETRICH (171...

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Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 221 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CHRISTIAN WILHELM ERNST DIETRICH (1712-1774)  , German painter, was born at
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Weimar, where he was brought up early to the profession of
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art by his
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father Johann George, then painter of miniatures to the court of the duke . Having been sent to
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Dresden to perfect himself under the care of 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
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Netherlands . There he learnt to copy and to imitate masters of the previous century with a versatility truly surprising . Winckelmann, to whom he had been recommended, did not hesitate to call him the Raphael of landscape . Yet in this branch of his practice he merely imitated Salvator Rosa and Everdingen . He was more successful in aping the style of Rembrandt, and numerous examples of this habit may he found in the galleries of St
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Petersburg, Vienna and Dresden . At Dresden, indeed, there are pictures acknowledged to be his, bearing the fictitious
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dates of 1636 and 1638, and the name of Rembrandt . Among Dietrich's cleverest reproductions we may account that of
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Ostade's manner in the " Itinerant Singers " at the
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National Gallery . His skill, in catching the character of the later masters of Holland is shown in candle-
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light scenes, such as the " Squirrel and the Peep-Show" at St Petersburg, where we are easily reminded of Godfried Schalcken . Dietrich tried every branch of art except portraits,
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painting
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Italian and Dutch views alternately with Scripture scenes and still
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life . In 1741 he was appointed court painter to Augustus III. at Dresden, with an
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annual
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salary of 400 thalers (6o), conditional on the production of four
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cabinet pictures a
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year .

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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 . Dietrich, though popular and probably the busiest artist of his time, never produced anything of his own; and his imitations are necessarily inferior to the originals which he affected to copy . His best
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work is certainly that which he gave to engravings . A collection of these at the
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British Museum, produced on the general lines of earlier men, such as Ostade and Rembrandt, reveal both spirit and skill . Dietrich, after his return from the Peninsula, generally signed himself " Dietericij," and with this signature most of his extant pictures are inscribed . He died at Dresden, after he had successively filled the important appointments of director of the school of painting at the
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Meissen
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porcelain factory and professor of the Dresden academy of arts .

End of Article: CHRISTIAN WILHELM ERNST DIETRICH (1712-1774)
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