Book Description

So-called cobweb painting, i.e. watercolour image hand painted on natural caterpillar spun gossamer, mounted within a gilt framed paper mat so that the image is visible from both sides. Image size 120 x 85 mm, portfolio size 250 x 205 mm. in excellent state of preservation, showing only minor defects to the spun fabric, 2 smallish tears and some pinprick holes (see photographs). A small example of cobweb (or caterpillar web ?) is provided within a pocket of the portfolio cover to emphasize the unusual fabric. Examples of this lost Tyrolean Alps craftsmanship and forgotten art form are rarely found in good condition given the extreme fragility and ephemeral nature of the artifact.
Dealer Notes
The term spider web painting is somewhat of an urban legend, mid-twentieth century microscope exams having established that all but one of the examples found were in fact painted on caterpillar (Hyponomeutinae) web which has a rather better uniform thickness of about 2 to 3 microns than spider silk threads varying from .03 to 2-3 microns.
While the rarity of caterpillar gossamer painted miniatures is evident, their link with Franz Richard Unterberger (1837--1902) is misleading and unwarranted.
Author Cobweb art
Date n.d., late 19th c. - pre 1914
Binding Publisher’s linen backed illustrated boards portfolio, printed label, pocket to inside front cover.
Publisher Innsbruck: Kunsthandlung Fr. Unterberger
Illustrator Peasant art, anon.
Condition Very good

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