Before Dürer
9/28/2022–1/8/2023

The Early Engraving

About the exhibition

In the fifteenth century, even before the invention of letterpress printing with movable type, the first techniques for printing images were developed. The woodcut led the way, with the technically more complex engraving following close on its heels. Emerging around 1430/40 from the gold engraving craft, the engraving not only provided a further method of reproducing religious and secular images, but also offered new artistic possibilities. Early on, for example, the Master E. S. (active 1440/50–1467) developed a systematic graphic language that would be capable of competing with the quality of painting. Martin Schongauer (ca. 1445–1491) perfected the process to the point where it could produce masterworks of a high technical and artistic standard. Nineteenth-century art historians – influenced, as they were, by Romanticism – were enchanted by the beauty of early engravings, which they perceived as direct and pure. A case in point is the Städel director Johann David Passavant who, around mid-century, amassed an outstanding collection of these works, many of which had survived in only a few prints. The Städel Museum is presenting a selection of especially superb and rare works from its collection. Apart from the Master E. S. and Martin Schongauer, it will feature numerous other engravers such as the Master of the Banderoles, the Master bxg, the Master AG, Wenzel von Olmütz, the prolific Israhel van Meckenem, and others. Some of Albrecht Dürer’s earliest engravings, dating from the final years of the fifteenth century, will round out the presentation.

Curator: Dr. Martin Sonnabend (Head of Prints and Drawings before 1750, Städel Museum)

Picture: Martin Schongauer, The Tribulations of St Anthony, around 1470–1480, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Photo: Städel Museum

Gallery

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    Martin Schongauer, The Tribulations of St Anthony, around 1470–1480

    Martin Schongauer (ca. 1430/1450–1491)

    The Tribulations of St Anthony, around 1470–1480
    Copper engraving on vergé paper, 311 x 227 mm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Photo: Städel Museum

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    Meister der Johannes Baptista, St. Bartholomäus, 15th century

    Meister der Johannes Baptista

    St. Bartholomäus, 15th century
    Copper engraving, 163 x 82 mm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Photo: Städel Museum

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    Meister E. S., The small Madonna of Einsiedeln, 15th century

    Master E. S. (ca. 1420/1425–ca. 1468)

    The small Madonna of Einsiedeln, 15th century
    Copper engraving, 135 x 90 mm
    Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
    Photo: Städel Museum

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