Autograph letter signed "Duschek" to the artist Anton Graff (1736-1813). Josefa DUŠKOVÁ.

Autograph letter signed "Duschek" to the artist Anton Graff (1736-1813).

1 page of a bifolium. Small quarto (187 x 224 mm.). Dated June 18, 1803. In black ink with later annotations in ink and pencil. Integral address panel with "D" stamped in red sealing wax. In German (with translation). Paper watermarked "C & I Honig" (Cornelius and Jacob Honig), important Dutch papermakers active ca. 1730-1869.

Dušek send warm reminiscences of her meetings with Graff, wishing that she could see him again. She also mentions a painting of "good Nauman," very likely referring to Graff's 1795 portrait of the composer Johann Gottlieb Naumann (1741-1801), another good friend of the Dušeks. She would very much like for Graff to return to Prague, but says she is in "my bath two hours from the city," at the moment (undoubtedly the spa town Karlsbad [Karlovy Vary]).

"... [I] do not spend a day without remembering you with gratitude and emotion, for the enjoyment granted me as owner of your painted excellence, that of the good Nauman... I still wish Prague to own more works of art, that could tempt you, dear and valuable friend, to come here, so I could once again enjoy that certain indescribable pleasure of seeing you..."

Slightly worn and browned. Creased at folds; minor paper repairs to upper margins, not affecting text.

Josefa Dušková (Josepha Dušek [Duschek], née Hambacher) was a leading Czech soprano and wife of composer František Dušek (1731-1799). The Dušeks knew Mozart and hosted him at their villa Bertramka during his stays in Prague, including during the time of his completion and the premiere of Don Giovanni (1787). Mozart wrote two arias for Josefa: Ah, lo previdi, K.272 and Bella mia fiamma, addio, K.528.

Graff was a Swiss painter primarily known for his portraits, especially those of nobility – his portrait of Frederick the Great (1781) is regarded as a masterpiece. Graff served as director of the Dresden Art Academy from 1766 until his death, working on behalf of a range of patrons including heads of state and Enlightenment poets.

The Dušeks were well known for their hospitality and had good friends in both Leipzig and Dresden. Graff visited Bertramka on Josefa's invitation and they remained friends for decades; Graff, in fact, provided several paintings for the Dušeks' art collection; there is even mention of a portrait of Josefa from 1786 (now missing).

Beethoven purportedly composed the well-known concert aria "Ah perfido!" for Josefa while he was in Prague in 1776. Although she did not give the first performance, she is recorded as having sung the work in Leipzig on November 21, 1796.

Letters of Dušková are quite rare to the market. ABPC records only one other example sold since 1975. Item #31289

Price: $2,500.00  other currencies

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