The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
In his day, the German painter-engraver Martin Schongauer (c 1450-1491)
was noted not for his engravings or for his drawings, as he is today, but
for his paintings; many of them decorated churches in northern Europe. Contemporaries
especially admired the sweet spirituality of his Gothic-style Madonnas and
the gentleness of his Nativity scenes. Today, we know Schongauer's paintings
mainly by attribution; only one, or perhaps two, have been positively identified
as from his hand. But the engravings have endured, 115 of them, authenticated
by the signature "MS." Some 100 drawings are also known, of which half are
extant, the other half known from descriptions or copies. Only one pupil,
Hans Burgkmair, is recorded, but Schongauer nevertheless left his mark on
the entire northern Renaissance movement largely through his influence on
other artists such as Dürer, Grünewald, Bosch, and Holbein. Dürer,
in fact, traveled all the way to Colmar in 1492, hoping to join Schongauer's
workshop, only to discover that he had recently died. Michelangelo and Rembrandt
are known to have copied his engravings. In his turn, Schongauer owed a major
artistic debt to the Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden (JAMA cover,
March 6, 1996). So pronounced was van der Weyden's influence on Schongauer's
style, apparently, that when Giorgio Vasari came to write his biography a
couple of generations later, he identified Schongauer not as German or Alsatian
but as Flemish or Dutch.
Southgate MT. Studies of Peonies. JAMA. 2003;290(6):711. doi:10.1001/jama.290.6.711
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