BEFORE DÜRER: The Engraving Becomes Art

28 SEPTEMBER 2022 TO 22 JANUARY 2023
Exhibition Hall of the Department of Prints and Drawings

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PRESS RELEASE
BEFORE DÜRER: The Engraving Becomes Art
28 SEPTEMBER 2022 TO 22 JANUARY 2023

Exhibition Hall of the Department of Prints and Drawings
Press preview: 27 September 2022, 11 am

The Städel Museum is devoting an exhibition to the engraving in its early days as an artistic pictorial medium. From 28 September 2022 to 22 January 2023, the show will present some 130 important German and Netherlandish engravings of the fifteenth century, and thus retrace the development of the medium from its simple beginnings to ever more sophisticated creations. Outstanding prints by Martin Schongauer, Wenzel von Olmütz, and Israhel van Meckenem, but also by anonymous early engravers such as the Master ES, the Master with the Banderoles, and the Master b(x)g will be on view. A selection of early engravings by the great German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer will round out the presentation.

The engraving is one of the oldest techniques used in Europe to print images. An intaglio printing method, it developed around 1430/1440 out of the art of metal engraving in goldsmith workshops. On the Upper and Lower Rhine, and not long afterwards in Italy as well, goldsmiths and painters began engraving religious and secular depictions on copper plates from which they then printed them on paper. Thus reproduced, the compositions served purposes of private devotion or as models, not only for other engravers, but also for painters, stained-glass makers, and sculptors. A new pictorial world gradually evolved and spread in the form of prints. This imagery owes its special appeal—which is as strong as ever today—to its simple but nonetheless effective graphic pictorial language, its immediacy, and its fascinating narrative qualities.

Philipp Demandt, director of the Städel Museum, comments about the show: ‘The extremely rare early engravings not only offer insights into the world of the Late Middle Ages but—as printed, reproduced, and circulated images—also play a highly consequential role in art history in general. Thanks to Johann David Passavant, the first head of the Städel collection, the museum today has superb examples in its possession. Our exhibition vividly illustrates how the engraving evolved to become an innovative and dynamic pictorial medium and thus later helped Albrecht Dürer, the greatest artist of the German Renaissance, to fame.’

Curator: Dr Martin Sonnabend (Head of the Department of Prints and Drawings before 1750, Städel Museum)
Opening hours of the Department of Prints and Drawings Study Room: Wed, Fri 2–5 pm, Thu 2–7 pm. Please book in advance by e-mail to graphischesammlung@staedelmuseum.de, stating the date, arrival time, and length of your stay.


Press images

Master of John the Baptist (active ca. 1440 – 1460 [?])
Saint Bartholomew
ca. 1440–1460
Engraving, drypoint
163 x 82 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Master of John the Baptist, Saint Bartholomew, ca. 1440–1460

Master ES (active ca. 1440/1450–ca. 1467)
Two of Birds
from the Large Playing Cards
ca. 1463–1467
Engraving, drypoint
104 × 82 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Master ES, Two of Birds, ca. 1463–1467

Master ES (active ca. 1440/1450–ca. 1467)
Knight and Lady with Helmet and Lance
ca. 1460–1465
Engraving, drypoint, embossing
138 × 105 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Master ES, Knight and Lady with Helmet and Lance, ca. 1460–1465

Martin Schongauer (ca. 1445–1491)
Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons
ca. 1470
Engraving, 2nd state (of 2)
311 × 227 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Martin Schongauer, Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons, ca. 1470

Martin Schongauer (ca. 1445–1491)
The Virgin and Child in the Courtyard
ca. 1475
Engraving
166 × 112 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Martin Schongauer, The Virgin and Child in the Courtyard, ca. 1475

Martin Schongauer (ca. 1445–1491)
A Censer
ca. 1475
Engraving
293 × 210 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Martin Schongauer, A Censer, ca. 1475

Martin Schongauer (ca. 1445–1491)
The Death of the Virgin
from the Life of Mary
ca. 1470
Engraving, 1st state (of 3)
259 × 171 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Martin Schongauer, The Death of the Virgin, ca. 1470

Martin Schongauer (ca. 1445–1491)
The Third Foolish Virgin
from the The Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins series
ca. 1475
Engraving
124 × 86 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Martin Schongauer, The Third Foolish Virgin, ca. 1475

Master b(x)g (active ca. 1470–1490)
after the Master of the Housebook (?)
Peasant with a Blank Shield and Garlic
ca. 1480
Engraving
90 × 91 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Master b(x)g, Peasant with a Blank Shield and Garlic, ca. 1480

Israhel van Meckenem (ca. 1440/1445–1503)
The Juggler and the Woman
from the Scenes from Everyday Life series
ca. 1490
Engraving
163 × 108 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Israhel van Meckenem, The Juggler and the Woman, ca. 1490

Israhel van Meckenem (ca. 1440/1445–1503)
after the Master of the Housebook
Joust of Two Wild Men on Horseback
ca. 1480
Engraving, 2nd state (of 4)
145 × 220 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Israhel van Meckenem, Joust of Two Wild Men on Horseback, ca. 1480

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)
Adam and Eve
1504
Engraving
249 × 192 mm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Photo: Städel Museum

Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1504

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"
Photo: Städel Museum – Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"
Photo: Städel Museum – Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"
Photo: Städel Museum – Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"
Photo: Städel Museum – Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"
Photo: Städel Museum – Norbert Miguletz

Exhibition view "BEFORE DÜRER: Engraving Becomes Art"
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+49(0)69-605098-195

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Press and Online Communication
fuhr@staedelmuseum.de
+49(0)69-605098-234

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