Erhard Schön (Biographical details)

Erhard Schön (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; German; Male; 1491 c. - 1542)

Also known as

Schön, Erhard


Born and worked in Nuremberg. After the death of Albrecht Dürer in 1528 he was the most prolific designer of woodcuts in Nuremberg. A follower and imitator of Dürer's style, he was also influenced by Hans Springinklee with whom he designed woodcuts for the 'Hortulus Animae' in 1516 (1904,0206.26) and the 'Biblia' of 1518 published by Koberger. He contributed a few illustrations to Emperor Maximilian's commissions, the 'Theuerdank' of 1517, the 'Triumphal Arch' of 1515-17 and the second edition of 1526 (see E,5.1 and 1845,0809.799). He mainly designed woodcuts with broad simple compositions which could be easily printed in large numbers for the general public, rather than those of particular aesthetic merit for the connoisseurs' market. He was employed by virtually every printer and 'Briefmaler' (producer of broadsheets and minor printed matter) in Nuremberg and also worked for printers in Bamberg, Vienna and Lyons. Apart from his early devotional work, his woodcuts illustrate mythological and historical subjects, in addition to the satirical anticlerical allegories used by the Protestant reformers for which he is best known, but which, due to the contentious issues, were not signed. Few documents and signed works are known, and Röttinger's numerous attributions to him are uncertain. No engravings by him are recorded.
One signed painting by him is known, dated 1538 (Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum). Dated drawings by him which have survived were made between 1530 and 1542; many of them are signed with his mark, an acute angle opening to the left (see 1978,1216.40; 1949,0411.124; 1986,0301.3; 1949,0411.123). A number of other drawings made in pen and ink, his preferred technique, have been attributed to him on a stylistic basis.


Campbell Dodgson; Röttinger; Hollstein
Rowlands 1993
Dodgson, i, pp. 418f; Thieme-Becker, xxx, 1936, pp. 218ff. (for further literature); Andersson, Detroit, pp. 330ff.; Austin, Nuremberg, pp. 162ff.
Bartrum 1995
Bartsch listed sixy-nine woodcuts by Schön in thirty-five entries, which cover his signed woodcuts and prints directly connected with them by virtue of being in the same series. The extensive catalogue raisonné by H. Röttinger, 'Erhard Schön und Niklas Stör, der Pseudo-Schön', Strasbourg, 1925, described over 1,100 sheets in 315 entries, many of which are of uncertain attribution; the majority of these are illustrated in 'Illustrated Bartsch', vol. xiii, Commentary (1984), which follows Röttinger's numbering system. Much work needs to be done on establishing the main corpus of Schön's oeuvre. His designs for the 'Hortulus Animae' are listed with details of the editions in which they appear in M. Consuelo Oldenbourg, 'Hortulus animae [1494]-1523: Bibliographic und Illustration', Hamburg, 1973, pp. 117ff. Prints by Schön for illustrations to Hans Sachs are described in H. Röttinger, 'Die Bilderbogen des Hans Sachs', Strasbourg, 1927, and K.H. Schreyl et al., 'Die Welt des Hans Sachs', exh. cat., Nuremberg, Stadtgeschichtliche Museen, Kemenatenbau der Kaiserburg, 1976. For drawings by Schön, see Rowlands pp. 459-64 and A. Stewart, 'New Drawings by Erhard Schön and his Circle', Master Drawings, xxvi, New York, 1988, pp. 233ff. There are also useful references to his work in the following exhibition catalogues: Jeffrey Chipps Smith, 'Nuremberg: A Renaissance City, 1500-1618', Austin, University of Texas, 1983; C.Andersson and C. Talbot, 'From a Mighty Fortress: Prints, Drawings and Books in the Age of Luther 1483-1546', Detroit Institute of Arts, 1983.