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Melchior Lorck

Facts, Fiction, Interpretation

Michael Bøgh Rasmussen, Hanne Kolind Poulsen, Ernst Jonas Bencard, Robyn Dora Radway, Jan Loop, Çiğdem Kafescioğlu, Emine Fetvacı

Published by Statens Museum for Kunst, National Gallery of Denmark

£30.00 / $38.97 / €35.65
($/€ approx)

Paperback, 147 pages, published 2023
Book Description

Melchior Lorck’s works are fascinating. His works possess a distinctive seductiveness not unlike present-day advertisements. We are captivated by their accomplished compositions, their clarity, simplicity and level of craftsmanship – their visual power. Melchior Lorck lived from 1526/27 to sometime after 1583 and is relatively unknown today. Who was he? And what did his works want to tell us?

Above all else, Lorck was a printmaker and wanted to publish large, illustrated books. However, none of them came to fruition, and so we know only a small part of his full and ambitious artistic project. We can only guess at its true scope and intended final expression. Even so, a fascinating life’s work survives to this day. In light of Lorck’s internationally groundbreaking work as an artist, he has received surprisingly limited scholarly attention. The seven articles in this book present fresh research that illuminates new aspects of Lorck’s work, suggesting new understandings and interpretations of his art.

The Royal Collection of Graphic Art at The National Museum of Denmark (SMK) holds what is perhaps the world’s largest collection of works by Melchior Lorck (1526/7–1583). The exhibition Melchior Lorck: An Artist in Transit (9 November 2023 – 3 March 2024) was curated by Hanne Kolind Poulsen, and presented in the beautifully appointed space of the main exhibition hall of the SMK in central Copenhagen. The curator took special care with the deep blue background of the high walls that offsets the graphic works and increases the visibility of the more than 240 drawings, woodcuts, and engravings shown in this historic exhibition. Hanne Kolind Poulsen and Mikael Bøgh Rasmussen edited the richly illustrated exhibition catalogue, Melchior Lorck. Fact, Fiction, Interpretation, which is published in Danish and in English and contains seven essays by leading experts in the field. The catalogue and the exhibition align thematically with the following topics: “Lorck’s Cultural Roots,” “To Constantinople,” “The Turkish Publication,” “The Prospect of Constantinople,” “Vienna,” “Byzantine Antiquity in the Ottoman Empire,” “Lorck’s Costume Books,” and “The Court Artist Lorck.” All of Lorck’s work are cited according to the five-volume catalogue of the artist’s oeuvre by Erik Fischer and edited by Ernst Jonas Bencard and Mikael Bøgh Rasmussen (2009).

The title,“Melchior Lorck: An Artist in Transit,” of this largest ever monographic exhibition devoted to the German-Danish artist confirms his itinerant career and his many encounters with the world far beyond his origins on the fjord in Flensburg in what was then Danish territory and is now part of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. The Baltic sea provided the first points of transit for the young Lorck, who traveled the region with his unnamed master goldsmith during his apprenticeship. As the recipient of a scholarship from King Christian III, Lorck travelled extensively in German-speaking lands, Italy, and the Low Countries. He later joined the imperial embassy led by Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq to Constantinople (Istanbul), where he sojourned, part of the time under house arrest, for three and a half years. Lorck conceptualised several comprehensive, illustrated book publications, the key project an ethnographic and print study of the Ottoman Turks. While his illustrated volumes were never realised in his lifetime, the graphic works in this exhibition and catalogue provide a clear overview of the artist’s plans.

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