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Record Image
Rottenhammer, Johann (German, b.1564, d.1625), Artist
St John the Evangelist
oil on copper
230 x 170mm plate size; 265 x 305 x 35 mm frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1993 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.
This small cabinet painting was made by the German artist Johann Rottenhammer about the time he settled in Venice in 1595. Its inspiration was one of a set of engravings of the four Evangelists by Agostino dei Musi (1490–1540) after works of Giulio Romano (1499–1546). It shows St John the Evangelist, one of Christ’s twelve disciples, seated on a cloud, pausing as he writes his gospel, attended by an eagle – this saint’s emblematic animal.
Rottenhammer was the first German artist to specialise in painting cabinet pictures, small works, usually on copper and with a sumptuously embellished frame, which could be kept in a cabinet and brought out and admired on occasion. Rottenhammer returned to Germany in 1606 and collaborated with Paulus Bril (1554–1626) and Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625), supplying figures for their background landscapes. Adam Elsheimer (1578–1610) was an assistant of Rottenhammer’s in Italy and adopted and developed his style.
The image is exquisite and the features of the saint very sweet, although not in the least sentimental. The artist has achieved a happy balance between Italian idealisation and north European realism. He is represented in major European and American galleries, though not elsewhere in Australasia.

not on view

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