'Georg Pencz, without equal in the art of drawing…'
This posthumous praise was inscribed on a picture frame in dedication to the Nuremberg artist Georg Pencz (ca. 1500 to 1550) around ten years after his death.
Taken at face value, it would have us believethat Albrecht Dürer, that towering figure of German painting, drawing, and printmaking, had by that time already faded into obscurity. The tables have long since turned: while Dürer is known by all, Georg Pencz is remembered only among a small circle. And yet immediately after Dürer's death, Pencz, who was primarily active as a painter, cartographer, and engraver, was one of the most highly sought-after artists in Nuremberg, which was then the leading art centre in the German-speaking world.
This one-room show, presented by the Kupferstichkabinett in the Gemäldegalerie, features arepresentative cross-section of Pencz's diverse oeuvre. The intimate exhibition includes paintings, copperplate engravings, and woodcuts, nearly all of which exude a certain 'Italianità' or Italian flair. Works from Pencz's early period rendered in the graphic medium show a direct resemblance to his painterly work of the 1520s, evident for instance in the cabinet picture (a small-scale painting, intended for the 'Kunstkammer' or cabinet of art), entitled 'Venus and Cupid' from the Gemäldegalerie's own collection.Such stylistic echoes are also supported by technical analyses conducted on paintings associated with the artist. Technical examination of one painting in particular, a portrait of a man by a previously unknown artist, has revealed that it is actually the work of Pencz. These findings are also presented in the exhibition for the first time.
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