The city of Augsburg, in southwest Bavaria, was founded as a Roman settlement during the reign of emperor Augustus (15 BC). By the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, the city, due to its strategic location on the north-south trade routes to Italy, became a prosperous center of manufacturing. At the same time, Augsburg witnessed the rise of the great banking houses of the Fugger and the Welser. Together these circumstances combined to foster an important and diverse artistic community, which had an established tradition in the printing and metalworking industries. During the reign of Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519), Augsburg became the location of the Imperial Council and the center from which the emperor organized all of his print and armor commissions. Augsburg artists greatly benefited from the commissions of the Hapsburg court, and, at the same time created works for the thriving art market.
This exhibition, organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. with loans from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other private and public collections, will emphasize the rich and varied world of works of art on paper produced in Renaissance Augsburg (1475 – 1540), paying particular attention to innovative printmaking techniques as well as the fundamental role of imperial patronage in furthering these activities. It will also address how, as a wealthy city with commercial ties to Italy, Augsburg was one of the first German cities to emulate the new Italian Renaissance style as well as its cultivation of humanism and the revival of antiquity.