Item description for Stefan Lochner: Image Making in 15th Century Cologne (Me Fecit) by Julien Chapuis...
The paucity of documents related to Stefan Lochner has resulted in a lack of agreement on such fundamental issues as the artist's identity, the nature of his oeuvre, the importance of his workshop, and his position in fifteenth-century painting. This volume re-evaluates the oeuvre ascribed to this artist in the light of an extensive examination of his works with infrared reflectography. Although the results of technical studies form the underpinnings of the book, its concerns are broader. Relatively few drawings can be attributed to northern artists of the fifteenth century, and fewer still can be linked with any degree of certainty to Cologne. Our understanding of graphic languages in Germany is based primarily on the print production, a distorted view because the techniques of woodcut and engraving imposed restrictions on printmakers that draftsmen could disregard. It is not until Martin Schongauer, active in Colmar in the last quarter of the century, that we can confidently associate a particular graphic language with a specific locale. In addition to increasing the overall corpus of fifteenth-century drawings, the underdrawings brought to light by the reflectography of Lochner's paintings offer tangible evidence of a graphic style that was practised in Cologne in the 1430s and 1440s. They reveal Lochner to be a draftsman of the first order who practised a style quite new at the time: derived from metalwork, it foreshadows Schongauer's achievements by some forty years. The prominent position of painting in modern museums obscures the fact that in earlier times other media were often more highly esteemed; the goldsmith's work is one of the forms of art to have been severely devalued over the centuries. Lochner selected his pictorial means to establish a conscious parallel with the work of goldsmiths, raising the status of painting by endowing it with the quality of the most revered form of art.
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JULIEN CHAPUIS is associate curator in the department of medieval art and The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was primary author and editor of the catalogue Tilman Riemenschneider: Master Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages, which is also available from Yale University Press.
Julien Chapuis currently resides in the state of New York.