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A pioneer of the Dürer revival or who was FH?
Monogrammist FH (so-called “Kress Monogammist”), Two wings with motifs from the Adoration of the Holy Trinity and other works by Dürer, c. 1540/50, inv. GG 930 © KHM-Museumsverband.

VIENNA.- These two wings of a triptych were long regarded as examples of the “Dürer Renaissance” at the turn of the seventeenth century, a high water mark of interest in the work of the master from Nuremberg who had died in 1528. It was assumed that the anonymous painter belonged to the group of artists employed at the court of Emperor Rudolf II to copy and compile Dürer’s works in the imperial collection: the main inspiration for the panels is Dürer’s Adoration of the Holy Trinity (1511), acquired by the Emperor from Nuremberg in 1585 and today also in the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

However, a recent examination of the oak panels comprising the support suggests the wings were produced around 1540/50. We can also identify the artist’s idiom in an Adoration of the Magi from Allentown (Pennsylvania, USA) also dated to this time.

This painting still features a partially decipherable monogram, which is why the artist is also sometimes identified as the “Kress Monogrammist” (after an earlier owner of the panel). As far as one can tell it is identical to the FH monogram on a drawing now in the Albertina, which suggests all these works are by the same hand, something also supported by stylistic similarities including the recurring use of striking motifs and numerous loans from Dürer.

The paintings especially demonstrate his extremely creative and discriminating use of the master’s pictorial inventions, and also his impressive familiarity with the latter’s oeuvre. It appears our artist in due course left Nuremberg and moved west: he incorporated both motifs from the Heller Altarpiece and from Early Netherlandish painting into his composition. And the wings now in Vienna are executed on Baltic oak panels, as was then customary in the Low Countries. Unfortunately, however, we still cannot identify the artist who signed his works with the monogram FH.

The Picture Gallery has been staging Points of View since 2012, and the series documents its role as a place of research, scholarship and education. Several times a year these small exhibitions showcase a selected work from the collection, inviting visitors to see it with new eyes and presenting the results of recent research.

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