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Hans Burckmair

Painter of the Swabian school, b. at Augsburg in 1473; d. in 1531

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Burckmair (or BURGKMAIR), HANS, a painter of the Swabian school, b. at Augsburg in 1473; d. in 1531. He was the son of Toman, or Thomas Burckmair, and received his first lessons in art from his father, then went, it appears, to Schongauer in Alsace, and afterwards to Italy. In company with the elder Holbein he painted, between the years 1501 and 1504, the seven great churches of Rome on panels in the monastery of St. Catherine at Augsburg. To Burckmair belong, among these, the basilica of St. Peter, the basilica of the Lateran, and the church of Santa Croce. The building itself is represented in the main compartment of each picture; above are, respectively, Christ's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Scourging, and the Crucifixion. Following the titles of the churches there are, in the first picture, St. Peter enthroned and accompanied by the Fourteen Holy Martyrs; in the second, the legend of St. John the Evangelist, and in the third, the martyrdom of the Eleven Thousand Virgins. Several fine figures in the paintings show Italian influence.

Not much later in date is the painting of Christ and the Blessed Virgin, the latter wearing a crown; most charming figures of angels and three groups of saints are depicted on the wings as surrounding the central personages. The pictures just mentioned are in Augsburg. Among the Madonnas at Nuremburg, the Madonna with the bunch of grapes is especially admired. An attractive genre picture with a background of harmonious tone that brings out the effect is the Holy Family in the Berlin Museum. The best of Burckmair's later panel pictures are: the Crucifixion, with St. George and the Emperor Heinrich on the wings, painted in 1519 and now at Augsburg; St. John in Patmos, and Esther before Assuerus, painted in 1528 (these two at Munich). Several portraits still exist which Burckmair painted in the later years of his life. Among these is one of the artist himself and his wife, painted in 1529, now at Vienna. In this picture his wife holds a mirror in her hand in which two skulls are reflected.

A woodcut of earlier date (1510) resembles a picture from a Dance of Death. In this engraving Death stops a pair of lovers, throws the youth down, and strangles him; at the same time he seizes with his teeth the dress of the young woman, who is fleeing. The woodcuts that Burckmair produced in the middle part of his career (1510-19), at the command of the Emperor Maximilian, possess unusual merit. Only one of them, or, at most, very few were inserted in the emperor's Prayer Book. For the other books concerned with Maximilian or his ancestors Burckmair's work was as follows: for the "Osterreichische Heiligen" (Austrian Saints) Burckmair made 124 engravings on wood; for "Teuerdank" 12; for "The Triumph" over 60; for the "Weiszkunig" more than 200; he finally completed the "Genealogie" with some 70 illustrations. As an example of his decorative work may be mentioned the adornments, which are full of imaginative power, in the so-called "Damenhof" of the house of the Fugger family at Augsburg. Under the influence of Italian art Burckmair modified the old realistic method of treating a subject, gradually replaced Gothic architecture in his work by that of the Renaissance, substituted color for gold in painting, and developed the use of landscape as a background.

G. GIETMANN


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