Small copper paintings such as this are typical for the German painter Johann König. The copper enhances the intensity of the colours and the small format forces the artist to create an equally intense composition. Works attributed to König fetch up to 36,000 Euro at international auctions
The small copper painting attributed to the painter Johann König shows ‘Saint George’ fighting the dragon. König, son of a goldsmith from Nuremberg, had presumably learned with Johannes Rottenhammer the Elder (1564-1625) and just like him, he preferred to use copper as an image carrier. The painter took the legend of Saint George from the Legenda Aurea as a motif for this painting: The saint saved a princess – here only a scheme in the background – who was supposed to be offered to a dragon to protect her country from the beast. The foreground of the small plate shows the Saint on a fine dapple grey. He is dressed in a golden and shiny armour with an eye-catching helmet decoration and holds his lance ready in his right hand. The dragon crouches on the ground in front them and his face is shown in fine details and very expressive and scary. The animal’s wings are depicted in an unusual manner, as they appear to have been studded with small jewels. The painter has deliberately used the animal’s worm-like body to fit it perfectly into the curvature of the oval copper plate.
Johann König (1586-1642) was born in Nuremberg, but probably received his education in Augsburg, most presumably under Johannes Rottenhammer. König travelled through Italy where he possibly met with Adam Elsheimer whose works – together with those of Paul Bril – influenced him strongly. He returned to Augsburg in 1614 where he was allowed to open a workshop and became a respected member of society, until he had to move back to Nuremberg in 1631 due to confessional reasons. König is best known for his small copper paintings, but there also exist some large scale paintings that are for example shown in the Louvre, in the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna and in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. More