Text by Bodo Brinkmann.
Published by Hatje Cantz
Perhaps the greatest painter of water there has ever been, the German Renaissance artist Konrad Witz (circa 1400 - 1446), was a contemporary of Jan Van Eyck and Uccello, and shared their fervor for perspective, bringing similarly magical dimensionality to his treatment of surface without aspiring to their extremes of realism. In his two famous paintings, "The Miraculous Draught of Fishes" (1444), and the earlier "Saint Christopher" (circa 1435), Witz is able to make water both serene and eerie, tangible and evanescent, all depth and surface simultaneously; "The Draught of Fishes," which uses Lake Geneva as a backdrop for a scene of Peter fishing, is also notable for being the first topographically accurate landscape in the history of German painting. Witz introduced Netherlandish influences into Germany and Switzerland (where he relocated in 1443), and while his own style shows its influence, echoes of a spookier and more enigmatic medievalism abound, distinguishing him from all of his contemporaries. As the U.K. Guardian's Jonathan Jones wrote in 2009, "Witz is one of the great discoveries awaiting anyone who steps away from the high road of western art history, from the famous names of the Italian Renaissance and Flemish tradition, to discover what painters in central Europe were up to at the end of the middle ages." Reproducing all of the artist's extant works across 120 color plates, this monograph is the first thorough examination of Witz's magnificent oeuvre.
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