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Josias Murer

(1564–1630, Zurich)

The Good Samaritan. Pen and black ink, grey wash. 26 x 16 cm. Monogrammed and dated: “IM. 1608”.

Josias Murer was the son of Jos Murer, a glass painter from Zurich, and was trained along with his elder brother, Christoph (1558–1614), in his father’s studio. Whereas Christoph’s artistic career is extremely well documented, comparatively little is known about the life and work of Josias. Around 1579 Christoph, the better known artist of the two, travelled to Basel and Strasbourg, where he worked in the studio run by Tobias Stimmer. In 1586 he returned to Zurich, where he opened what proved to be a flourishing and well respected studio. Christoph Murer soon became one of the most significant and influential glass painters and printmakers in Switzerland and the Upper Rhine valley. His stained-glass panels, executed with mannerist ele­gance and technical virtuosity, are regarded as the main works of Swiss enamel painting on glass around 1600. Josias profited from the reputation of his elder brother and his numerous private and public commissions and joined his studio in 1588. Coopera­tion between them must have been very close, given the strik­ing stylistic similarity to Christoph’s works and those of their father, Jos. In contrast to the drawings of Jos and Christoph, those by Josias are much rarer.

The present stained-glass panel depicting the Good Samaritan and bearing the date 1608 has been executed with fluidity and consummate skill. The broad, finely gradated washes generate a striking chiaroscuro effect. In stylistic terms the drawing is very closely related to an Allegory of Charity by Josias’ father in the British Museum in London. A lunette in the upper half of the picture shows the face of the Good Samaritan and undoubtedly served as the prototype for the present drawing.

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