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German Renaissance Art & Ornament

Renaissance ornament penetrated into Germany at an early period, but was absorbed into the hearts of the people but slowly, until the spread of books and engravings quickened its general acceptation. From an early period there had been a steady current of artists leaving Germany and Flanders to study in the great Italian ateliers. Among them, men like Roger of Bruges, who spent much of his life in Italy, and died in 1464, Hemskerk, and Albert Durer, more especially influenced their countrymen. The latter, who in many of his engravings showed a perfect apprehension of the conditions of Italian design, leaning now to the Gothic manner of his master Wohlgemuth, and now to the Raphaelsque simplicity of Marc' Antonio. The spread of the engravings of the latter, however, in Germany, unquestionably conduced to the formation of the taste of men who, like Peter Vischer, first brought Italian plastic art into fashion in Germany. Even at its best the Renaissance of Germany is impure-her industrious affection for difficulties of the hand, rather than of the head, soon led her into crinkum-crankums; and strap-work, jewelled forms, and complicated monsters, rather animated than graceful, took the place of the refined elegance of the early Italian and French arabesques.

Arabesque by Theodor de Bry, one of the "Petits Maltres" of Germany (1598), in imitation of Italian work, but introducing strapwork, caricature, and jewelled forms.

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