“The best engraver on wood in Europe”

Douce’s interest in German prints was not limited to early woodcuts and engravings; it also encompassed the work of contemporary printmakers. Next to what seems to be a proof for a title-page, Douce wrote ‘Unger of Berlin, The best engraver on wood in Europe’:

Johann Friedrich Unger, Title-page, c. 1779-1804, wood-engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

Douce owned many examples of Unger’s main publications, as well as works by his fellow-countryman Friedrich Wilhelm Gubitz (1786-1870):

Friedrich Wilhelm Gubitz, Heiligendamm be├┐ Dobberan, 1800-30, wood-engraving (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

In the same folder, Douce kept a few title-pages from the Historische Kalender illustrated by yet another German artist, E. W. Zimmer. Zimmer used scenes from the popular story of Wilhelm Tell, which would inspire Friedrich Schlegel’s play published one year later:

E. W. Zimmer, Historische Kalender, 1803, woodcut (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

Interestingly, Douce also collected prints by the founder of wood-engraving in Britain, Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), with whom he corresponded. Bewick’s pupils are equally well represented in the collection.

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