A fine original engraving of “Hieronimus von Erlach” after a painting by Ritter Rusca. Engraved by Jean George Will(e), published c. 1750. (Ref: Griffiths & Carey, German Printmaking in the Age of Goethe).
Hieronymus von Erlach (March 31, 1667 Bern - February 28, 1748) initially served in the Bernese regiment in the French army, but in 1702 he was a colonel of a regiment in the Imperial Austrian army during the War of the Spanish Succession. Early successes brought him promotions and in 1704 he was made a lieutenant field marshal. His star continued to rise, despite suspicions that he leaked Austrian plans to the French. In 1710 Emperor Joseph I made Hieronymus his chamberlain. Two years later Emperor Charles VI gave him the title of Reichsgraf or Imperial Count. A few years later he returned to Bern and entered politics and became the sixth von Erlach Schultheiss from 1721 until 1746.
J. G. Wille (1715-1808) was the most famous and successful German engraver of the 18th century. “By dint of hard work, great talent and force of character he succeeded in becoming a central figure in the Parisian engraving world, and the chief artistic link between France and Germany. His international reputation was founded on his line-engraved portraits, and it was to Wille that the princes of Germany sent as pupils the young men whom they intended to teach line-engraving in the Academies that were being founded across Germany…” (Griffiths & Carey, p. 33).
Plate size is approximately 18 1/4 x 12 1/4 inches.