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Monogrammist CR (flourished 1544)

A landscape with a farm and two castles on hilltops

signed with monogram ‘CR’
etching, watermark bear (cf. Briquet [1] no. 12268, 12270 etc.)
15 x 22.6 cm (plate); 18.1 x 25.4 cm, (sheet)
Nagler 72, first and only state
a strong, richly inked impression, with some platetone in the upper part of the sheet, a dryly printed part in the lower centre, an unobtrusive central vertical fold, some very faint foxing, the sheet has been lightly treated, with broad margins (circa 1,5 cm), generally in very good condition

Fürstlich Waldburg Wolfegg’sches Kupferstichkabinett (L. 2542), Wolfegg; C.G. Boerner, Leipzig, 14-15 May 1934, lot 398.

The group of artists working along the Danube River from Regensburg to Vienna in the first decades of the 16th century were dubbed the so-called ‘Danube School’ at the of the 19th century. [3] Later, in 1907, Hermann Voss published his Der Ursprung des Donaustils which widely spread the notion that these artists constituted a single, cohesive movement which was led by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553), Wolf Huber (1485-1553) and Albrecht Altdorfer (1480-1538), all painters as well as printmakers. These artists were amongst the first European artists to take major inspiration from nature, their works often prominently featuring pine trees with abundant mosses hanging from their branches combined with rocky-mountains in the background as well as the occasional bridge and hilltop castle. As observed by Charles Talbot in the catalogue of the seminal exhibition Prints and Drawings from the Danube School in 1969-1970, the appreciation of the artists from the Danube School went beyond a purely esthetical one; ‘’All definitions of the school can be reduced to two principles: first, that there is an integral relationship between man and nature; second, that nature is the dominant force and provides the essence of life. The justification of these principles resides in both the stylistic and thematic character of art.’’ [4]

Besides the aforementioned leading artists from the Danube School, a number of anonymous artists are known only through their monogrammed prints and drawings. Biographical information about these artists, which include the Master of the Miracles of Master Mariazell, [5] the Master of Mühldorf [6], the Master of the Historia [7] and the Monogrammist CR, is particularly scarce. When Nagler described the latter artist’s œuvre he had to base himself on the original copperplates, which are kept in the Hofbibliothek in Vienna, as no lifetime impressions were known at the time. The copperplates decorated a 16th century cupboard and when it was restored in 1843 impressions on China paper were pulled from the plates.8 Bartsch and Nagler catalogued 8 prints in total, all landscapes and of which one is dated 1544. It was only in 1934 that four lifetime impressions, including the present etching, appeared at a sale at C.G. Boerner in Leipzig which came from the celebrated collection of the Fürstlich Waldburg Wolfegg’sches Kupferstichkabinett which was largely formed in the 17th century by Max Willibald von Waldburg (1604-1667). The collection, consisting of some 120,000 prints and drawings, forms one of the most important private collections of prints and drawings ever formed. The four prints by the Monogrammist CR sold in 1934 were part of a sale of prints from the Fürstlich Waldburg Wolfegg’sches Kupferstichkabinett and the auction catalogue describes these impressions as following: ‘’Diese und die folgenden überaus seltenen deutschen Landschaftsradierungen aus der Mitte des XVI. Jahrhunderts sind im Handel kaum je vorgekommen. Ausgezeichnete alte Abdrucke auf Papier der Zeit, mit dem Wasserzeichen der Bären.’’ [9] One of these impressions was acquired through Colnaghi by the British Museum, London. [10] It is unknown who acquired the other prints, making the recent rediscovery of the present etching all the more exciting. Besides the œuvre as described by Bartsch and Nagler, one more subject by the Monogrammist CR can be added, bringing the printed œuvre of the artist to 9 sheets in total. [11]

[1] C.M. Briquet, Les Filigranes. Dictionnaire Historique des Marques du Papier. Tome Troisième L-O, Geneva, 1907.
[2] G.K. Nagler, Die Monogrammisten [...], Band II, CF-GI, Munich, 1860, p. 224.
[3] C. Talbot, in Prints and Drawings of the Danube School. The Danube School, exhib. cat., Yale
University Art Gallery and elsewhere, 1969-1970, p. 10, note 1. 4 Ibid., p. 11.
[5] ibid, no. 71, pl. 11.
[6] ibid, no. 75, pl. 13.
[7] ibid, no. 74.
[8] F. von Bartsch, Die Kupferstichsammlung der K.K. Hofbibliothek in Wien, Vienna, 1854, p. 141.
[9] Auction catalogue; C.G. Boerner, Leipzig, 14-15 May 1934, p. 42.
[10] Inv. 1934,0609.16.
[11] For an impression of this print see British Museum, inv. 1870,1008.1995.

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