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Franz Christoph Janneck

The Adoration of the Shepherds

Franz Christoph Janneck

Oil on copper
14 x 18 ins. (35.5 x 45.6 cm)



Gustav Webers (1840 – 1923), Potsdam, and thence by descent to his son Paul Gustav Webers (1875 – 1951) , and thence by descent to his daughter Gerda Lachner, née Webers (1913 – 2007); Private Collection, Germany.


Dateable on stylistic grounds to c. 1740, this Adoration of the Shepherds is a fine example of Janneck’s abilities as a painter of cabinet pictures. The copper support favoured by the artist not only intensifies the richness and luminosity of the palette but also allows for a meticluous rendering of drapery folds, reflective surfaces and finely delineated facial features. The scene itself is bathed in supernatural light emanating from the newly born Christ Child. The column rising in the background outside the dilapidated barn may signify the emergence of the new Christian order, while the lamb with bound feet symbolizes Christ’s future sacrifice.  Other treatments of the subject by the artist are known, including one in the Landesmuseum Joanneum in Graz, which is particulalrly close to our work (i).


Franz Christoph Janneck is one of the most widely admired representatives of the Austrian Rococo School. Born in 1703, he was the eldest son in a family of artists, and, along with his younger brother Matthias, received his early training from his father, who was also a painter.  Janneck later studied under Matthias Vangus in Graz before moving to Vienna in 1721, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts from 1726 to 1728. In 1752 he was appointed Director of the Academy.  Like his friend Johann Georg Platzer, Janneck had a preference for painting small-scale cabinet pictures, which were greatly prized by Austrian collectors and admired for their ‘Dutch taste’.  His style combines influences from French and Netherlandish painting:  the figures recall the work of the eighteenth-century French masters such as Natoire and Lemoyne, while his contorted poses, highly complex compositions and the use of the copper support are redolent of northern mannerism, all these elements being combined with a distinctively Austrian sensuality.  Janneck’s  use of copper was no doubt influenced by the works by Jan Brueghel the Younger and Jan van Kessel that he would have had seen in the extensive Habsburg collections in Vienna, while his miniaturist technique also reveals his debt to the Leiden fijnschilders of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

i See Christina Pucher, Franz Christoph Janneck 1703 – 1761, Graz, 1996, plate 1, p. 224.

Franz Christoph Janneck

Graz 1703 - 1761 Vienna

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