Johann Friedrich Morgenstern
Cappricio with Figural Staffage
Oil on paper, mounted on canvas. 47 x 66.5 cm.
Signed and dated lower right: Joh. Fried. Morgenstern pinx: 1808.
A stone in the lower center of the piece inscribed "Fuentes del" means we can assume that Morgenstern based this painting on a design or backdrop by the theatre painter Giorgio Fuentes (Foentes), born in Milan in 1756. Fuentes worked for the "Scala" in Milan until he was called to Frankfurt in 1796, where his theatre decorations were praised most highly. Especially his designs for Mozart's "Titus" and Salieri's "Palmyra", as recorded by his contemporaries. Goethe was also a great admirer of Fuentes' work, and tried to convince him to come to Weimar. However, the painter instead favoured Paris and moved there in 1805. The fact that this work is dated 1808 is proof of the continued fascination Fuentes' paintings in Frankfurt long after the artist left for France.
Johann Christian Morgenstern was a member of an extended family of painters from Frankfurt and father to the more well known Carl Morgenstern.