(born ca. 1400, Rottweil, died ca. 1446, Basel), was a German-born
painter from Rottweil in Swabia, active in Switzerland and
generally considered a member of the Swiss school. He entered the
painters' guild in Basle in 1434 and apparently spent the rest of
his career there and in Geneva. Little else is known of him and few
paintings by him survive. These few, however, show that he was
remarkably advanced in his naturalism, suggesting a knowledge of
the work of his contemporaries
Jan van Eyck
Master of Flémalle.
In place of the soft lines and lyrical qualities of
International Gothic we find in Witz's work heavy, almost stumpy,
figures, whose ample draperies emphasize their solidity.
Witz's most famous
works are the four surviving panels (forming two wings) from the
altarpiece of St Peter he painted for the cathedral in Geneva.
These are now in the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire there; the
central panel is lost. One of the panels, the Miraculous Draught of
Fishes, is Witz's masterpiece and his only signed and dated work
(1444). The landscape setting depicts part of Lake Geneva (one of
the earliest recognizable landscape in art) and Witz's naturalism
is even more remarkable in his observation of reflection and
refraction in the water.
Witz tried to capture
landscape and architecture with the greatest possible faithfulness to
life. His significance can be compared in various respects with that
of Masaccio in Italy and Jan van Eyck in Netherlands. Konrad Witz died
in around 1446 in Basle or Geneva.
No portrait of Konrad
Witz seems to exist, so the image accompanying this article is an
“assumed” characature of Witz from his painting, Joachim
and Anna in front of the Golden Gate.