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As an artistic endeavour, drawing is almost as old as mankind. In an instrumental, subordinate role, it developed along with the other arts in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Whether preliminary sketches for mosaics and murals or architectural drawings and designs for statues and reliefs within the variegated artistic production of the Gothic medieval building and artistic workshop, drawing as a nonautonomous auxiliary skill was subordinate to the other arts. Only in a very limited sense can one speak of centres of drawing in the early and High Middle Ages; that is, the scriptoria of the monasteries of Corbie and Reims in France, as well as those of Canterbury and Winchester in England, and also a few places in southern Germany, where various strongly delineatory (graphically illustrated) styles of book illumination were cultivated.

Heribert R. Hutter, Encyclopaedia Britannica. 


Martin Schongauer was born in about 1440 in Colmar, Alsace, probably the third of the four sons of Caspar Schongauer, a goldsmith from Augsburg who taught his son the art of engraving. Colmar is now in France but was then part of the Holy Roman Empire. Schongauer established at Colmar a very important school of engraving, out of which grew the "Little Masters" of the succeeding generation, and a large group of Nuremberg artists. The main work of Schongauer's life was the production of a large number of beautiful engravings, which were largely sold, not only in Germany, but also in Italy and even in England and Spain. Vasari says that Michelangelo copied one of his engravings, in the Trial of Saint Anthony. His style shows no trace of Italian influence, but a very clear and organized Gothic.

The British Museum and other major print rooms possess fine collections of Schongauer's prints.