Johann Wolfgang BAUMGARTNER
(Ebbs 1702 - Augsburg 1761)
Alexander the Great Founding a City
Inscribed Joh: Wolfgang Baumgärtner 1712-1761. / /Kufstein./ and B in black ink on the album page to which the present sheet was formerly attached.
175 x 293 mm. (6 7/8 x 11 1/2 in.)
The present sheet is likely to have been a design for a print, and may depict the foundation of the city of Alexandretta ad Issum (now Iskandarun in Turkey) by Alexander the Great in 333 BC, after his victory at the Battle of Issus. It is difficult to be certain, however, since Alexander usually celebrated his military victories with the founding of cities - invariably named after himself - of which the most famous is Alexandria in Egypt, founded in 331 BC. Indeed, as many as seventy cities are thought to have been established by Alexander the Great during his campaigns.
Baumgartner is best known today as a draughtsman and designer of prints – ‘one of the most gifted designers for the print trade that Augsburg produced in a fertile period of graphic invention’, according to one modern scholar - although unusually he does not seem to have worked as a printmaker himself. Some 220 drawings by the artist have survived, most of which served as designs for prints, book illustrations or calendars for the three leading publishing houses in Augsburg of Klauber, Engelbrecht and Kilian. The artist worked particularly closely with the brothers Johann Baptist and Joseph Sebastian Klauber, printmakers and publishers who etched many of his designs. Baumgartner’s model drawings for engravings include allegorical, mythological and religious subjects, genre scenes, hunting themes and elegant pastoral subjects, as well as designs for Thesenblätter, or thesis frontispieces. (Interestingly, many of Baumgartner’s preparatory designs for prints were in the form of oil sketches on canvas, often much larger in scale than the final engraving; this was probably a legacy of his work as a glass painter.) Among his significant commissions as a book illustrator, Baumgartner provided some three hundred designs for Joseph Giulini’s devotional work Tägliche Erbauung eines wahren Christen (Daily Devotions of a True Christian); a calendar illustrating each of the days of the year with an engraving of different saint.