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Matthaeus Merian

12 Sep

MATTHAEUS MERIAN was a Swiss artist born in Basel in 1593. He was a painter of portraits, history painting and landscapes. He also happened to be a very fine etcher. After being a pupil of Dieter Mayer in Zurich for four years, he went to Nancy where he met Jacques Callot, the renowned French printmaker. In 1623 he moved to Frankfurt to take over the publishing house of his father-in-law Theodore de Bry. He died in Bad Schwalbach near Weisbaden in 1650.

In his prints, Merian is best known for landscapes that are based on the South and Central European region, his views filled with mountains and river valleys. He is also known for his views of cities but it is his village scenes that hold the most charm, with figures and animals going about their daily activities. These village scenes suggest he was aware of the widely known series Plaisante Plaetsen (Pleasant Places) published by Claes van Visscher in 1611-12 which in turn owed much to the Small Landscapes (1561) of Pieter Breughel the Elder. Nonetheless Merian had his own distinct drawing style, particularly in his treatment of leaves on the trees and texture of foliage, that gives his prints their individual character.

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