Chapter 9. Printmakers

E. S. loved the process

E. S. was probably the first printmaker to sign his work. He was a master, running a workshop to supply block prints to publishers. Much of his artwork is burdened with detail. Many letters in his Fantastic Alphabet, are crowded with animals and men in grotesque poses, and are unrecognizable as letters, as though he loved the process more than the result.

Michael improved the art

Michael had talent and improved the art of woodcutting, but he also organized a large workshop in Nuremberg, employing many apprentists and selling their work to publishers and churches. In his “The Fifth Day of Creation,” showing birds perching on a bare tree, two doves are copulating and an owl is on the ground eating another bird.

Martin copied and was copied

Michelangelo and many other artists copied the work of Pretty Martin. As his work matured, it became less busy, but it was always highly organized. For his engraving “Christ Carrying the Cross,” he is thought to have been inspired by a painting by Jan van Eyck, which is now lost. The slope leading to Golgotha is so crowded with men, women, horses, and dogs, it’s no wonder that Jesus stumbled.

Albrecht had no love for his wife

Albrecht was a renaissance artist and knew Raphael, Bellini, and da Vinci. He apprenticed under Wolgemut in Nuremberg. His godfather owned twenty-four printing-presses and published the Nuremberg Chronicle. He may have studied under Schongauer and he was friendly with Schongauer’s brothers. He acquiesced to an arranged marriage but had no children and made vulgar remarks about his wife.

Maurits became obsessed with tessellations

Marits was a sickly child and a poor student. When he was young he travelled widely, inspired by the landscapes and townscapes of Italy. After the age of thirty eight he because increasingly obsessed with tessellations, and his art turned from observations from his travels to imagination and geometric analysis.