Witz, Conrad

Witz, Conrad
(ca. 1400-ca. 1446)
   German painter whose work reflects the spread of the influence of Flemish painters into other re-gions of northern Europe. His father was a painter who worked at the court of Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy, and as a youth he ac-companied his father to Burgundy and the Netherlands. He settled in Basel in 1434 and did most of his work there. Witz's best-known painting, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes (1444), seems to reflect the influence of the Master of Flémalle, now usually identified as Robert Campin. Though Campin's influence is reflected in the draperies of the human figures, the landscape background suggests the influence of the brothers Van Eyck. A few fragments of a fresco Dance of Death painted in the Dominican cloister at Basel survive. Other known works include two wings of the Heilspiegel Altarpiece (ca. 1435-1438); an Annunciation panel for an altarpiece for a Do-minican convent at Basel; the St. Peter Altarpiece (central section is lost but the wings survive, including the Miraculous Draught and Liberation of St. Peter from Prison); Meeting at the Golden Gate; and SS. Catherine and Mary Magadalen in a Church. Less certainly at-tributed are Holy Family and Saints in a Church, a fragment of a Vir-gin and Child, Decision on the Redemption of Man, and a panel with a Nativity on the outside and a votive scene on the inside, parts of a dismantled altarpiece. Despite the high quality of his work and his contemporary reputation, Witz had little influence on later German art, since the success of Rogier van der Weyden brought about a change of taste that made Witz's paintings seem old-fashioned.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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