An Old Master woodcut illustration of Theuerdank defeating another knight, one of 118 cuts illustrating one of the greatest books of the German Renaissance, going by that same name, Theuerdank . The book is considered something of a chivalric romance, relating the fictionalized, romanticized adventures of Maximilian I in the course of his journey to the Netherlands in 1477 to fetch his bride, Mary of Burgundy. Apparently Maximilian, also known as the Holy Roman Emperor (1459-1519), wanted to achieve a measure of immortality. Wanting to glorify for posterity his life and deeds and those of his Habsburg ancestors, he aggressively self-promoted on a number of fronts, including creating and distributing the book, an impressive achievement not very many years after the invention of movable type. One of a number of artists chosen to illustrate the book (13 of the 118 illustrations were by him), HANS BURGKMAIR (1473-1531) was a pupil of Martin Schongauer as early as the year 1488. After 1508 much of Burgkmair's time was spent on projects assigned by Maximilian. The drawings Burgkmair created for the Theuerdank were made into woodcuts by master blockcutter Jost de Negher. It is thought that Maximilian wrote most of the book himself, perhaps assisted closely by his chaplain and confidant, Melchior Pfintzing. The book was first published in 1517. A larger second edition was issued in 1519, and apparently others were made through the year 1693. I do not know from which edition this example might originate. This print, not examined out of the frame, measures 7" by 6" (15 1/2" by 13" framed). It is very clean, and the impression, very sharp and bold. Typeface can be seen coming through from the reverse side, as would be expected for an illustration from a book. The print appears to be affixed at each corner to the backing mat, though, not laid down. I credit Wikipedia for helping me to lay out, understand, and relate this rather complex and confusing story.
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