17th century

Adam Elsheimer 1578-1610

240 pages, hardback, 315 x 240 mm, 240 illustrations
PRICE: £30.00
ISBN: 978 1 903470 47 3

 

Edited by Michael Maek-Gérard. Essays by Emily Gordenker, Rüdiger Klessmann, Christian Tico Seifert

Adam Elsheimer is first recorded in 1600 and by 1610 he was dead. But, rather like Giorgione, who had died young in Venice exactly 100 years earlier, Elsheimer was influential on the coming century to a degree out of all proportion to his brief career and small oeuvre.

Born in Frankfurt, Elsheimer soon migrated to Rome, which around 1600 was not only the university of antiquity but also the capital of contemporary art, where the new Baroque style was being forged – both by Caravaggio and native Italians and by visiting northerners such as Elsheimer himself. Elsheimer developed a wonderful mastery of light, anticipating Claude, Poussin and a whole host of landscape painters; a dramatic chiaroscuro that gave new depth to his subject-matter; and a rather less definable poetic feeling that gives a very special savour to all his painting – of which only 40 examples are known today, and a smaller number of drawings. He always worked on a small scale, painting meticulously in oil on a copper ground, but importing into his complex compositions sophisticated devices and effects comparable to those of the greatest commissions of the time.

Influenced himself by Altdorfer, Tintoretto and Bassano (combining northern and Italian roots), Elsheimer in turn became a revered model for both Rubens and Rembrandt, all the French and Flemish painters who visited Rome, and native Italians such as Agostino Tasso and Saraceni.

Very little has appeared on Elsheimer since Keith Andrews published his monograph on the artist in 1977. This new book not only incorporates new research but also features, at last, superb colour plates and details of the artist’s paintings, which have hitherto been poorly reproduced and made his genius much more difficult to appreciate.
Accompanying a major exhibition in Frankfurt, Edinburgh and London, the book will become the new standard work on Elsheimer, focusing Elsheimer’s role in one of the major revolutions of Western art.

Michael Maek-Gérard is a curator at the Städelsches Institut in Frankfurt.

Emily Gordenker is a curator at the National Gallery of Scotland.

Rüdiger Klessmann was formerly director of the Herzog-Anton-Ulrich Museum in Brunswick.

Christian Tico Seifert teaches at Berlin University.


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