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"Fantastic Alphabet": late Gothic masterpieces at the exhibition in Munich

The Munich Pinakothek pleased the public with an exhibition of a unique collection of 15th-century engravings, presenting “The Fantastic Alphabet of Master E.S.”. We do not miss the opportunity to get acquainted with the work of an outstanding German graphic artist. Monotype belongs to the group of flat printing techniques. Unlike other prints, which allow you to make a lot of impressions from one form, here you get only one image (hence the "mono" - "one" - in the title). Most often monotypes are used by illustrators of children's books. It is also popular with psychologists (to ascertain the inner state of a person) and teachers (for the development of imagination in children). Read more Collagraphy - a relatively new type of embossed printing. It was invented in the middle of the 20th century and combines environmental friendliness, ease of execution, richness of textures and plastics, and, moreover, it is well combined with other graphic manners (for example, "dry needle"). The printed matrix is ​​a collage (hence the name combining the words "collage" and "graph") and is created by sticking various materials — fabrics, plastic, sand, plants, and so on — to a wooden or cardboard base using various pastes. Read more In the second half of the 15th century, woodcuts began to crowd out an engraving on metal or intalo. The term is derived from the Italian intagliare, meaning "cut, incline, cut through." Unlike woodcuts, where the protruding portions of the matrix are imprinted on paper, here visible traces are left by grooves containing ink. Therefore, metal engraving belongs to the group of intaglio printing techniques. Read further, having made a fantastic journey into the world of the metamorphoses of the late Middle Ages - with knightly tournaments, beautiful ladies, sinful monks, supporters - fools, dragons, salamanders and chimeras.The gem of the exposition is a series of engravings of 23 prints, representing 23 letters of the Fantastic Alphabet by Master E.S. (Master ES, 1420-1468). This unique collection of prints on paper of the 14th century is the only one in the world; it belongs to the National Graphic Collection in Munich.Master E. S. The letter “e”, 1466, engraving by Mezzotintho (another name - “black style”) - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copperMaster E. S. The letter “f”, 1466, engraving by Mezzotint (another name - “black style”) - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper, 140 × 107 mm
© Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München The master of E.S. — the creator of the Fantastic Alphabet — is practically unknown. This circumstance does not prevent the specialists from calling him the most significant late Gothic engraver. On some of the imprints in the signature, the letters “E. S. ”, therefore the name“ Master E.S. ”was assigned to the artist. Stylistic features of the works of German graphics. Monotype belongs to the group of flat printing techniques. Unlike other prints, which allow you to make a lot of impressions from one form, here you get only one image (hence the "mono" - "one" - in the title). Most often monotypes are used by illustrators of children's books. It is also popular with psychologists (to ascertain the inner state of a person) and teachers (for the development of imagination in children). Read more Collagraphy - a relatively new type of embossed printing. It was invented in the middle of the 20th century and combines environmental friendliness, ease of execution, richness of textures and plastics, and, moreover, it is well combined with other graphic manners (for example, "dry needle"). The printed matrix is ​​a collage (hence the name combining the words "collage" and "graph") and is created by sticking various materials — fabrics, plastic, sand, plants, and so on — to a wooden or cardboard base using various pastes. Read more In the second half of the 15th century, woodcuts began to crowd out an engraving on metal or intalo. The term is derived from the Italian intagliare, meaning "cut, incline, cut through." Unlike woodcuts, where the protruding portions of the matrix are imprinted on paper, here visible traces are left by grooves containing ink. Therefore, metal engraving belongs to the group of intaglio printing techniques. Read further suggests that he was active in the middle of the XV century in the lands of the Upper Rhine and in the north of Switzerland. Researchers believe that soon after the end of work on the alphabet, the artist died. The creative life of the master is determined by the years of his activity - 1450−1467.

More than 300 engravings by Master E.S. have been preserved, and another 200 can be restored on the basis of copies. The style of his works is based on the late Gothic art. Researchers talk about the influence of the artist Konrad Vits and sculptors Nikolaus Gerhart and Master Passion Karlsruhe on the work of the German graphic artist.
In turn, the rich, skillful compositions of Master E.S. gave a powerful impetus to the development of sculpture on both sides of the Alps. The artist also made a revolution in the technique of engraving on copper. Thanks to a special parallel shading, he learned how to simulate shadows and plastics, and he could also create an amazing “velvety” effect in a printed print.

Master E. S. The letter "d", 1466, engraving on copper

The Fantastic Alphabet includes 23 lowercase letters of the Gothic alphabet and represents an absolutely amazing phenomenon for its time. The artist worked on it in the years 1466-1467, taking the Bohemian alphabet of 1400 as a basis. He copied some of the letters, others completely redid his style.
Not without irony, the artist paints images of monks, exposing their vicious behavior and fake essence. Armed to the teeth, the Turks radiate an ominous charm. Commoners master depicts wild people living instincts that fight each other. There are masters and fools - they loved to beat this image in the Middle Ages. Their artist convicts only of carnal desires.Before us suddenly appears the medieval world through the eyes of an extraordinary genius. A rich surrealist painter and science fiction writer could envy the rich imagination of a medieval master!Master E. S. The letter “q”, engraving by Mezzo-tinto (another name is “black style”) is the process of creating engravings on metal belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper, 1466
  • Master E. S. The letter "h", 1466, engraving by Mezzo-Tinto (another name is "black style") is the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper
  • Master E. S. The letter "r", 1466, engraving by Mezzotintho (another name - "black style") - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper
Master E. S. The letter "s", 1466
Coming up with complex compositions, the artist with circus ease builds “acrobatic numbers”, connecting the figures of people, animals and mythological creatures into unimaginable poses. Their movements create a graceful silhouette for the pattern of the letter. So each fancy letter of an intricate alphabet is born.
  • Master ES "The letter" x ", 1466, engraving by Mezzotintho (another name -" black style ") - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, unlike etching, the image is not formed lines, and subtle gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian, meaning “halftones.” The master does not create indentations — lines and points — and smoothes light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but This technique allows you to get rich tonal The textual and textural effects are similar to water-based watercolors (hence the name "aquatint"). This is the reason why this kind of gravure printing appeared at the end of the 18th century. Read more Lithography, along with monotype, belongs to the group of flat printing techniques , but this is where their similarity almost ends.Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Zenefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper, 152 x 105 mm © Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München
  • Master E. S. The letter "c", 1466, engraving by Mezzotint (another name - "black style") - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper
  • Master E. S. The letter "o", 1466, engraving by Mezzotintho (another name - "black style") - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper, 140 x 100 mm © Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München
  • Master E. S. The letter "k", 1466, engraving by Mezzotintho (another name - "black style") - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this.Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper
At first glance, the "Fantastic Alphabet" looks like a prank, an entertaining eccentricity of the artist. In fact, he was in no way created for entertainment. In the language of the Middle Ages, the author talks about the eternal struggle between good and evil. These symbols were easily read by contemporaries of the artist.
  • Master E. S. The letter "y", 1466, engraving by Mezzotintho (another name - "black style") - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper
  • Master E. S. The letter "p", 1466, engraving by Mezzo-Tinto (another name - "black style") - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper
We can only guess about the target audience for which the artist worked. Anti-clerical topics addressed by the master could not be freely distributed. Probably the master worked for an intellectual audience. In addition, among the merits of his works, we first of all note their aesthetic appeal, which only a delicate connoisseur could appreciate.Master E. S. “The letter“ g ”, 1466, engraving by Mezzotint (another name -“ black style ”) - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on copper, 152 × 134 mm
© Staatliche Graphische Sammlung MünchenMaster E. S. The letter “v”, 1466, engraving by Mezzo-Tinto (another name - “black style”) - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read further on the medical Thematic diversity of the German graphic arts. Monotype belongs to the group of flat printing techniques. Unlike other prints, which allow you to make a lot of impressions from one form, here you get only one image (hence the "mono" - "one" - in the title). Most often monotypes are used by illustrators of children's books. It is also popular with psychologists (to ascertain the inner state of a person) and teachers (for the development of imagination in children). Read more Collagraphy - a relatively new type of embossed printing. It was invented in the middle of the 20th century and combines environmental friendliness, ease of execution, richness of textures and plastics, and, moreover, it is well combined with other graphic manners (for example, "dry needle"). The printed matrix is ​​a collage (hence the name combining the words "collage" and "graph") and is created by sticking various materials — fabrics, plastic, sand, plants, and so on — to a wooden or cardboard base using various pastes. Read more In the second half of the 15th century, woodcuts began to crowd out an engraving on metal or intalo. The term is derived from the Italian intagliare, meaning "cut, incline, cut through." Unlike woodcuts, where the protruding portions of the matrix are imprinted on paper, here visible traces are left by grooves containing ink. Therefore, metal engraving belongs to the group of intaglio printing techniques. Read further extraordinary for its time.

The master created religious works — scenes from the Old and New Testaments, the Passion of the Christ, the life of the Virgin Mary and the Apostles, told in his works whole legends about the saints.
There were a German artist and "secular interests" in the work - there are numerous sheets with courtly scenes of a light erotic nature. Hints of love joys are often veiled, but quite understandable to his contemporaries.
Master E. S. "Madonna of the Rosary Standing on the Crescent Moon", second half of the 15th century, engraving

Erotic series of the master is called "Little Gardens of Love." It is known that one of these works was in the collection of the doctor, historian and humanist Hartmann Schedel (1440−1514) from Nuremberg. This information confirms the idea that the collectors and buyers of such sheets were enlightened, educated public. And the theme of "garden" in Medieval art was extremely popular and was associated with joys and pleasures, - remember Bosch and his "Garden of earthly pleasures."Little Garden of LoveMaster E.S.XV century

Master E. S. “The Lady of Hearts. Playing card ", engraving, second half of the 15th century

The news used the press release of the exhibition, ending November 6, 2016, the Pinakothek Museum of Modernity in Munich. Title illustration: Master E. S. “The letter“ m ”, 1466, engraving by Mezzotint (another name -“ black manner ”) - the process of creating engravings on metal, belonging to the group of intaglio printing techniques. At the same time, in contrast to etching, here the image is formed not by lines, but by fine gradations of light and shadow. Hence the name, translated from Italian meaning "halftones". The master does not create indentations - lines and points - and smoothes the light areas on the rough surface of the board. Read more The process of creating an aquatint is similar to etching, but this technique makes it possible to obtain rich tonal and textural effects, similar to a water-color pattern — watercolor (hence the name aquatint). The popularity of this type of intaglio printing, which appeared at the end of the XVIII century, is connected with this. Read more Lithography along with monotype belongs to the group of techniques of flat printing, but this is where their similarity almost ends. Lithograph appeared in 1796 or 1798, thanks to Johann Alois Senefelder, a typographer from Munich. Initially, the imprint was taken from a drawing on a stone — usually limestone — slab, from which the name of this method came (from other Greek meaning λθος "stone" + γράφω "writing, drawing"). Now, instead of a lithographic stone, zinc or aluminum plates are used, which are easier to process. Read on with copper. © Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München