Virgil Solis Holstein German / New Holstein GermanThe volumes dedicated to the prints of Virgil Solis, introduces the astonishing variety of one of the most prolific graphic artists of sixteenth-century Nuremberg to an English audience for the first time. The first three volumes catalogue Solis' single-sheet prints, which are largely intaglio, and which number just over 1000. The forthcoming volumes on Solis will reproduce his book illustrations. The range and versatility of Solis's graphic work was initially investigated by Ilse O'Dell, and her publication of 1977 lays the foundation for the present catalogue. Not all the collections listed in O'Dell , such as Copenhagen and Florence, were visited by the present author, but other collections not recorded in O'Dell, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Amsterdam, Coburg and Wolfegg, are included here. The most notable aspect of Solis' work is his skilful absorption and re-interpretation of other artist's styles, particularly Albrecht Dürer, Peter Flötner, Sebald Beham and many others of French and Italian origin. This was not done out of a lack of creativity on the part of Solis, but was a decision made with a commercial advantage in mind.
The presence of the VS monogram does not indicate necessarily that Solis created a particular print, merely that it emanated from his large and successful workshop, in which at least one of his own sons worked. There is accordingly, a wide range of styles visible in his oeuvre; on some occasions it is possible to identify who in the Solis workshop may have executed a print, but this is not always the case. After Solis' death, his workshop was inherited by Balthasar Jenichen, who married his widow. Around fifty percent of the single-sheet prints recorded here were designed for ornament, and were utilised as models by a large numbers of artists and craftsmen working in a variety of media; some examples are illustrated in the Introduction.