THE SO-CALLED COLOGNE SERIES OF PRINTS ICONES ET MIRACULA SANCTORUM POLONIAE PRODUCED BY PETER OVERADT'S PUBLISHING HOUSE
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Peter Overadt was an engraver, book publisher and copperplate dealer in Cologne. His publishing house produced, among other works, graphics with images of saints, as for instance on the occasion of their canonization. He cooperated with various artists, including Augustin Braun who contributed to the series of copperplates derivatively called 'Icones et miracula Sanctorum Poloniae'. The series was based on images of Polish saints and blessed drawn by Jacopo Lauro. In the preparation of drawings and the performing of the engravings produced by Overadt participated many artists, including Pieter I de Jode. Circa 1605-1606 there came out thirteen individual copperplates with images of Polish saints or candidates for the altar, with concise descriptions by Marcin Baroniusz. The prints of the series were found in Poland (Krakow, Stary Sacz) and Germany (Wolfegg). In all probability, the engravings were commissioned by King Sigismund III Vasa and all are made according to an uniform model. In the centre there is a representative image of the hero, and around it, in a decorative border of scrollwork plant motives or strapwork, ten to twelve vignettes illustrating the hagiographical legend. It is an example for the coexistence of word and picture, while the iconography illustrates the text, but it is richer in narrative. The authors used the topoi appropriate for the hagiographic iconography of the post-Tridentine period: first a presentation of the origins of a saint, then his heroic acts performed during his life as the evidence of his heroic virtues, supported by miracles, then the extraordinary circumstances of the natural or martyr's death. The posthumous cult and post mortem miracles merge in the official approbation of holiness of the Christ's disciple.
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