Sphinx Fine Art
Franz de Paula Ferg studied landscape painting with his father, Adam Pankraz Ferg (1651–1729), and with Josef Orient (1677–1747) and staffage painting with Johann (Hans) Graf (1653–1710). He also studied the engravings of Jacques Callot and Sébastien Leclerc. His early works show such subjects as harbours, markets and villages as wide vistas with many figures, trees and buildings, for example Fair with Temple and Maypole (Vienna, Belvedere). These scenes combine landscape and genre and are characteristic examples of early 18th-century Austrian panel painting, showing the influence of Dutch, Flemish and Italian models. The colours are dark, and the staffage figures in the manner of Graf are slender, with small heads and peculiarly wooden poses.
In 1718 Ferg left Vienna and went to Franconia, Bamberg, and Leipzig. There he met Johann Alexander Thiele (1685–1752), whom he accompanied to Dresden. A small self-portrait (untraced) from this period was bought by the painter Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich. Later Ferg travelled to Lower Saxony and from about 1724 lived in London, where he made an unfortunate marriage and died in misery. In 1726 he created a series of eight etched Capricci (preparatory sketches in Vienna, Albertina), which help to date many smaller pictures to the London period. His late cabinet pieces contain fewer, clearly drawn figures, set in Italianate landscapes with ruins; their Arcadian mood, brilliant colour and Rococo manner are particularly pleasing.