No biographical details of the Monogrammist i e are known.
In 1888 Lehrs began to assemble a group of engravings under the authorship of the 'Master of the Katharine Wheel' owing to the predominance of this watermark on the paper he used. Other commentators had attributed some of his prints to the Master FVB (J.D. Passavent) or identified the artist with Martin Schongauer's brother Georg (Daniel Burckhardt). Lehrs had at an early stage even attributed the Magdalen (L.42), on the grounds of quality, to Martin Schongauer himself. In his 1927 catalogue he still comments that in this print he comes close in quality to the 'Colmar Master'. Some of the drawings attributed to Schongauer by Rosenberg are now also believed to be by this master.
On account of the close affinity with the work of Martin Schongauer, it is felt that the Monogrammist i e lived on the left bank of the Rhine, either in Colmar itself (perhaps even working in Schongauer's studio) or in nearby Isenheim.
A little over half of the 55 engravings recorded by Lehrs are copies of Schongauer's engravings. However, his finest work is amongst the remaining 24, which include the celebrated Magdalen and this series of Christ and the Apostles. These finer works may either be original compositions of the Monogrammist i e, or relate to lost drawings by Schongauer.
Eight of the present impressions have the watermark Katharine Wheel with Three Flowers (not recorded on Schongauer's prints) which Nicholas Stogdon (in Prints from Goluchów) links with the paper mill 'BP' (cf Lehrs wmk. 25-6) whose products were used across the whole of central France from Saumur to Lyon at this time. The watermark is probably closest in form to Briquet 13362 (dated 1486) although in width of wirelines it is closer to Briquet 13364 (dated 1490)
Engravings by the Monogrammist i e are of extreme rarity. Apart from the three incomplete sets listed below, Lehrs records only eight individual impressions from the set of thirteen in various museums. An impression of Saint John (L.28) unrecorded both by Lehrs and A Census of 15th Century Prints in Public Collections of the United States and Canada is in the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The Census of 15th Century Prints records impressions of only four of the artist's prints (none from this series) in the USA. The incomplete sets listed by Lehrs are as follows:
Basel, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, has twelve from the set of thirteen, lacking Saint Matthew (L.32); Lehrs grades these from 'ziemlich gut' to mainly 'prachtvoll', listing no defects in the condition
Liège, Bibliothèque de l'Université, has twelve from the set of thirteen, lacking Saint Paul (L.25); Lehrs grades them from 'schön' to mainly 'ausgezeichnet' with one 'prachtvoll'; seven of these have a Katharine Wheel watermark, some are rather cut; they are all from the Durazzo, Felix and de Wittert collections.
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale (Hébert 338-57) has eleven from the set of thirteen, lacking Saints John and Simon (L.28,33); most of these are cut, silhouetted or damaged to varying degrees.
We are grateful to Nicholas Stogdon for his assistance in compiling this catalogue entry.
The following literature has been referred to or used in making this entry:
Daniel Burckhardt, Die Schule Martin Schongauers am Oberrhein, Basel 1888
Jakob Rosenberg, Martin Schongauer. Handzeichnurgen, Munich, 1923 Max Lehrs, Geschichte und kritischer Katalog des deutschen, niederländischen und französischen Kupferstichs im XV. Jahrhundert, Volume VI, Vienna, 1927
Alan Shestack, Fifteenth Century Engravings of Northern Europe, from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Washington, 1967
C M. Briquet, Les Filigranes, Amsterdam, 1968
Michèle Hébert, Inventaire des gravures des Ecoles du Nord, 1440-1550, Paris, 1982, Volume I, pp. 91ff, nos. 338-57
R.S. Field, L.S. Richards & A. Shestack Ed., A Census of 15th Century Prints in Public Collection of the United States and Canada, 1985
Kristin L. Spangenberg Ed., Six Centuries of Master Prints, Treasures from the Herbert Greer French Collection, Cincinnati, 1993
N.G. Stogdon, Prints from Goluchów Rediscovered, in Print Quarterley, Volume XIII, no. 2, June 1996, p. 167f, note 17
N.G. Stogdon, Catalogue X, Martin Schongauer, Middle Chinnock, 1996