Albrecht Dürer and the Beginnings of Czech Illustration

Pages 45–55
DOI 10.2478/amnpsc-2019-0004
Keywords Albrecht Dürer – Hieronymus Höltzel – Pavel Olivetský of Olivet – Friedrich Peypus – Pavel Severin of Kapí Hora – Erhard Schön – woodcut – illustration – Unity of the Brethren – Unitas fratrum – copies – Litomyšl – Lukáš of Prague – copperplate engraving – Nuremberg – Prague
Type of Article Peer-reviewed
Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae – Historia litterarum | 2019/64/1-2

This article deals with printed graphic sheets, cycles and illustrations by Albrecht Dürer, which penetrated into book printing in the Czech language (Nuremberg) and in Bohemia (Prague, Litomyšl) through original printing blocks as well as copies in the first half of the 16th century. Dürer’s graphic sheets were distributed by the Nuremberg printers Hieronymus Höltzel (1509, 1511) and Friedrich Peypus (1534), the Litomyšl printing workshop working for the Unity of the Brethren (Unitas fratrum) in Litomyšl (1520), and the so-called Severin Workshop, connected to the Prague printing workshop of Pavel Severin of Kapí Hora (1529, 1539). Eleven works of religious character associated with Dürer have been discovered among Czech illustrations so far – they were made by means of seven original printing blocks and four copies, which is not so much. In this respect, Dürer was greatly surpassed by his Nuremberg successor, Erhard Schön. After Schön died in 1542, the printer Jan Günther received roughly one quarter of workshop printing blocks (approximately 340 pieces). Two years later, he moved them to Moravia, where they were coming to life in Prostějov, then in Olomouc and eventually in popular books, brochures and broadsides from Skalice until the end of the 19th century. Dürer’s printing blocks that functioned in the context of Czech book printing depict: [1a] the Nativity, [2c] the apocalyptic Woman Clothed with the Sun, and [5a–e] the Saints (James the Greater, Peter, John the Evangelist, John the Baptist and Judas Thaddaeus). The following subjects were copied: [2b] the apocalyptic Woman Clothed with the Sun, [3b] Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, [4c] Two Angels (Geniuses), and [6b] the Holy Trinity. The woodcut copies are not exact replicas. The poor artistry and craftsmanship of the copyists, whose names are not known, led to the omission of details. The problem is that the copyists were not trying to present Dürer’s graphic art but needed a cheap and simple acquisition of the biblical scene required. More detailed information on the printing blocks and copies is available in the catalogue attached.

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