In 1999 the Albertina and the National Gallery of Slovenia hosted an exhibition of thirty-one rare fifteenth-century German prints from the Albertina’s collection. Called Ljubezen in Nespamet. Minne und Torheit, or ‘Love and Folly’, the exhibition was accompanied by a handsome catalogue published simultaneously in Slovenian and German side by side. Each of the prints is illustrated and discussed in an entry that features insightful discussion and helpful bibliographic references. The catalogue also features essays treating love and folly, foolish men, and sinful women.
Conceived by curators Fritz Koreny and Erwin Pokorny, who also wrote the catalogue entries, the exhibition concentrated on, but was not limited to subjects relating to love and folly. The prints discussed and illustrated in the catalogue, mostly engravings with some woodcuts, feature subjects that include saints, scenes of courtly love including Love Gardens, Bathhouses and the Fountain of Youth, as well as Morris Dancers, the Battle over the Pants, and Unequal Lovers. A sample of artists and titles includes the Master of the Playing Cards’ St. George and the Dragon, Master E.S.’s Large Love Garden, the Master with the Banderoles’ Fountain of Youth and Bathhouse – both with newly translated banderole texts, and Israhel van Meckenem’s and Dürer’s Unequal Lovers .
The catalogue can be recommended for the rare impressions and interesting themes it discusses and illustrates. It is also to be commended as a document of the newly-established relations between two institutions which only a decade ago could not have collaborated in such a way.
Penned by Tomislav Vignjeví and Erwin Pokorny, the essays address the move away from court circles and the knight in the late Middle Ages to the culture of the city and burghers in the Early Modern period. This rise of the burgher class brought with it satirical subjects including the Power of Women theme, men as fools in love, and women as power-hungry wives and as symbols of lust. The increasing emphasis on secular art produced during the fifteenth century is also well documented in this catalogue. For readers interested in the representation of women and men in paintings and prints of this time it might be worth noting that a collection of essays on the theme is now in preparation: Saints, Sinners, and Sisters. Gender and Visual Art in Medieval through Early Modern Northern Europe, ed. by Jane Carroll and Alison Stewart, London: Ashgate Publishing, expected summer 2002.
University of Nebraska–Lincoln