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The Triumph of Maximilian I

The Triumph of Maximilian I by Hans Burgkmair and Others © The Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University
Thursday 31 March 2011 - Saturday 13 August 2011

Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I was so obsessed with his own death that he is reputed to have carried a coffin with him wherever he travelled. Before the advent of photography, just how does a Holy Roman Emperor make sure he is remembered long after his bones and deeds have turned to dust?

In 1512 Maximilian I ordered a series of miniature paintings to be created. His intention was to preserve the memory of his reign down the centuries – an ambitious and expensive vanity project of which Maximillian I said ‘the money I spend for the perpetuation of my memory is not lost’. The exquisite images which resulted were later turned into prints which have recently been restored, allowing them to tour the UK for the very first time.

The series of prints on display in this exhibition depict Maximilian’s achievements and aspirations in the form of a grand procession. Draughted in minute detail, they offer a remarkable window into the pomp and grandeur of life as a 16th Century Emperor. Over half of the original 135 woodcuts for the prints were created by German painter and printer Hans Burgkmair, for whom the project became an obsession, dominating his working life for over 10 years.