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Description

This ink drawing is copied after a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Younger and reveals the sixteenth-century method of transferring images with a stylus. John the Evangelist is shown sitting with a book and pen in lap, his body is heavily draped in pleated robes, with long toes poking out to touch a rock-strewn ground where the Evangelist’s eagle stands nearby. Above is the Trinity with Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit enveloped in clouds. Rocky outcroppings with trees and distant villages appear in the background, all captured in fine detail after Cranach’s composition, complete with delicate rocks and foliage.

The monogram PWB and date 1567 are written in the lower right, possibly that of Peter Weinher the Elder, an artist, engraver, and Münzwardein documented in Munich between 1570 and 1581. No drawings by Peter Weinher survive that can be compared, but twenty-five engravings by the artist are recorded (Andresen, p. 62). A similar handling of facial features appears in Weinher’s portrait engraving of Albert V, Duke of Bavaria, with date 1575 (figure 1). Weinher used a series of monograms throughout his career with variations of the initials “PW,” in cases adding “B” for Bavaria (Passavant, pp. 235-238). Further study is needed, but if confirmed this drawing would stand as the earliest work by the artist.

The source art for this drawing is a woodcut dated 1540 by Lucas Cranach the Younger (figure 2; Hollstein 4). The print was published in Latin Bibles in 1541 and 1544 by Nicolaus Wolrab (German, active c. 1536-1551). The copyist has replaced Cranach the Younger’s mark with the monogram “PWB,” suggesting that this drawing was a learning exercise – a common practice in the sixteenth century. However, it is also possible that the drawing was created as a devotional image. The outline of the main figure is sharply incised with a stylus or hardpoint tool, in places slicing through the paper. Purple ink appears at the left edge, perhaps from the colored fore-edge of a book, with added strips of paper reinforcing the lower corner, left edge, and areas of the verso. In addition to the finely incised lines there are spots of ink burn.

On the verso is an unidentified woodblock print of John the Evangelist at a lectern with a pen with a heavy black border under the heading “Johannes Evangelist” (see verso, below) with thirteen lines of text printed in a Fraktur typeface in German. The text contains a discussion of John the Evangelist’s life and works, with comments on differences between the Gospel of John and the Synoptic Gospels. This text is unidentified but can be compared to Wendel Schemp's Historia der heiligen zwölff Apostels, published 1559 and 1561.

Literature:

Unpublished; see:

Andresen, A. Der deutsche peintre-graveur, Leipzig, 1866, pp. 47-62.

Bartsch, A. Le peintre-graveur, vol. 9, Leipzig, 1866, pp. 551-557.

Hollstein, F. W. H. German engravings, etchings and woodcuts c.1400-1700, Amsterdam, 1954.

Passavant, J. D. Le peintre-graveur, vol. 4, Leipzig, 1863, pp. 235-238.

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