Johann Georg Bergmüller (German, 1699-1762)
Saint Martin Appealing to the Virgin, 1715
Ink, washes and watercolor on paper 13 7/8 in. x 7 7/8 in. (35.24 cm x 20 cm)
Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection1871.6
Though known mostly as an Augsburg artist, Johann Georg Bergmüller was from the small town of Türkheim in the hills above that southern German city. At the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed to the painter Johann Andreas Wolff in Munich. The Wittelsbach family made this apprenticeship possible and also helped secure him commissions in Düsseldorf and travel to the Netherlands for training. Bergmüller moved to Augsburg permanently in 1713. He was made a director of the city’s painting academy in 1730 and a court painter in 1739. His style shows attention to Italian models, though he is not known to have traveled in Italy.
In this drawing, Saint Martin, who has given his cloak to the beggar below, asks for the Virgin’s intercession. He is surrounded by a variety of other saints: Saint Michael casts out a demon at right, Mary Magdalen kisses the Christ child’s foot, and Saints George and Catherine look on. Bergmüller’s use of color, especially vivid red, unifies the action. Signed and dated 1715, the drawing dates from the artist’s first years in Augsburg. It served as the model for a surviving altarpiece in the Bavarian town of Tannheim.