Johann Wolfgang BAUMGARTNER
(Ebbs 1702 - Augsburg 1761)
Joshua Outside the Walls of Jericho
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. It has been suggested that the subject depicts an episode from the Battle of Jericho, as recorded in the Old Testament Book of Joshua (6:1-20). Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, is seen here studying a plan of the city of Jericho, with the Israelites encamped outside the walls of the city in the left background. In the right background may be seen seven priests with trumpets carrying the Ark of the Covenant around the city. According to the Biblical account, God commanded the Israelites to carry the Ark around the walls of Jericho once a day for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day. In each circumnavigation of the city, the Ark of the Covenant was preceded by seven priests, each sounding a trumpet of rams’ horns. On the final day, after the seventh circuit, the walls of Jericho crumbled to the ground, and the Israelites conquered the city.
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.