Lot 95: MATTHÄUS MERIAN Anthropomorphic Landscape.
November 3, 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Engraving, circa 1625. 110x168 mm; 4 3/8x6 3/4 inches. Trimmed on or just inside the plate mark. A very good impression of this extremely scarce landscape engraving, which viewed closely takes on the appearance of a man''s head seen horizontally in profile.
Anthropomorphic landscapes, combining human features artfully disguised in landscape views, such as the man''s head in profile looking upwards in this work, were popular during the early 1600s. It has been suggested that these anthropomorphic landscapes began appearing, not coincidentally, just as landscapes as subjects were becoming more popular and accepted in western art, during the transition from landscapes with the obligitory Biblical, historical or genre scenes to "pure" landscapes devoid of human presence. The playfully creative side of these anthropomorphic landscapes also owes a great deal to the paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526 or 27-1593) the Italian artist and court portraitist to the Holy Roman emperors Ferdinand I, Maximilian II and Rudolf II, whose images of imaginative portrait heads made entirely of objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish and books were wildly popular during the late 1500s.
Matthäus Merian, the Elder (1593-1650), was a Swiss-born engraver and publisher from basel who spent most of his career in Frankfurt, then one of the major publishing centers of Europe. Hollstein 405.