Virgil Solis the Elder

Virgil Solis the Elder (German printmaker, 1514-1562) 


With an output of over 2,000 prints and drawings, Virgil Solis was one of Nuremberg's most prolific printmakers and book illustrators. His origins and training are unclear, though his father may have been a painter. He became a master in 1539 and often signed himself as a painter, but no evidence of that career exists.


Solis aimed to produce popular, commercially successful prints on many subjects and regularly borrowed figures and compositions from German and Italian masters. His early drawing style employed strong outlines and simple hatching. He made over two hundred woodcuts illustrating biblical stories plus decorative elements, published in eleven editions between 1562 and 1606.


Solis also disseminated contemporary ornamental forms to artisans, who often used his prints as models for furniture decoration, architectural friezes, pitchers, bowls, sword scabbards, and jewelry. His mixtures of animal and vegetable forms on drinking vessel designs helped to break many goldsmiths' strict adherence to classical motifs. Solis's monogram signature came to mean only that prints originated in his workshop, rather than identifying his own designs. Later owners printed his woodblocks and plates well into the 1650s.


(Biography via the Getty Museum, Los Angeles)


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