Holzschnitte der Ulmer Äsop-Ausgabe des Johann Zainer
. Verlag der Kunst: Zwinger-Bücher . Dresden
Language note: German
NE1150.5.Z35 K63 1961 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
Language note: German
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The heart of this lovely little book lies in the seven reproductions from the Life of Aesop and the twenty-nine reproductions from the fables in the 1476 Ulm edition of Johann Zainer. They are numbered, and the fable for each briefly told, on 45-48. The text of this book is not bound to sequential comment on the reproductions. It tells the history of Western fables and of Steinhöwel's Latin-German edition. This edition by Johann Zainer in Ulm included one-hundred-and-ninety-three text illustrations, twenty-eight of them on the Life of Aesop. To insure the popular impact he wanted from the work--it was quickly sold out--Steinhöwel included the Schwänke of Poggio and other non-fable material within his work. Koch emphasizes that the woodcuts contributed mightily to the popularity and success of Steinhöwel's work. The woodcuts were used again in Günther Zainer's new German-only edition in Augsburg the following year and often until the turn of the century, when stress on the wood necessitated new woodcuts. The illustrations of all twenty editions of fables that appeared in Germany before 1500 come, directly or indirectly, from the Ulm woodcuts. The master who fashioned these woodcuts focussed on the highpoint of the scene; he finds the important point in the plot and leaves aside the ornamentation that late Gothic art loved. Sometimes the more important character or element is enlarged. All the elements are ordered to each other. One look is enough to get a sense of what is happening. Few of the illustrations put two events into one scene, as artists of the middle ages were wont to do. Koch finds that, by contrast with his earlier work for Zainer, the Ulm Master here shows an ease in presenting the human form, even in complex movements or moments. Koch believes that one master drafted all of the cuts, but that a number of hands executed them. There is thus some variation in the quality of the cuts.