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MICROGRAPHY: Crucifixion of Jesus. Zoom

MICROGRAPHY: Crucifixion of Jesus.


A hand-drawing of the Crucifixion was made in ink on vellum in techniques of calligraphy, micrography and pointillism in the middle of the 18th Century.

Author: Christian SOMMER.
Place and Year: [German, probably Bavaria, mid 18th century].
Technique: Ink drawing in black ink on parchment (Very Good, soft folds ), 31,5 x 21,5 cm (12.4 x 8.5 inches).
Code: 65861

A fine hand-drawing in ink on vellum was made in techniques of calligraphy, micrography and pointillism. It showcases Jesus on the Cross, surrendered by religious text in German Gothic Script and angels holding Arma Christi. An image below represents a woman praying to Jesus in a Chapel.

The image is close to the art of Johann Thomas Köppel (1711-1762), active in Bavaria in the mid 18th century (see: Schrift als Bild, Berlin 2011, p. 180, image 22).




Micrography (from the Greek ‘micrographia,’ meaning small writing) is an art form first developed by Jewish scribes in Egypt and Israel around the 9th Century.  Traditionally, Jewish artists were banned from drawing images of living creatures due to the rabbinical interpretation of the Second Commandment which states: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of anything] that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”  As with traditional Islamic art, Jewish artists were thus relegated to drafting calligraphy and geometric forms.  However, rabbinical rulings permitted forms that might optically appear to be of banned subjects to be constructed, as long as they were composed entirely of calligraphy.  Artists brilliantly constructed elaborate designs composed entirely of microscopic lines of text.  During the Medieval period, the art form flourished in Iberia and Central Europe, regions with strong Jewish artistic patronage.  It is important, however, to remember that due to the extreme sophistication and technical difficulty of the medium, micrography never became a popular art form, but was reserved for appreciation in rarefied circles.