Who is Michael Sigismund Frank?

By Gwylym Owen

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Michael Sigismund Frank (1 June 1770 – 16 January 1847) was a Catholic performer and rediscoverer of the purposeless art of glass-painting.

Frank was born in Nuremberg. His daddy was a dealer in provisions, living in comfortable circumstances, who destined his son to become his successor in business. But these plans were thwarted by Sigismund’s fondness for art. The mother, without her husband’s knowledge, had him instructed in drawing in the local academy.

Having in limbo his father in in the future youth, Frank was apprenticed to his godfather Neubert, who carried upon at Nuremberg the matter of lacquering and decorating wooden boxes and caskets. His enhancement in this fake was rapid, but he stayed less than a year taking into consideration Neubert. After returning to the house of his mother, who had married a second time, he over devoted himself to the psychotherapy of drawing, meantime painting boxes for extra manufacturers at Nuremberg and earning ample to pay his expenses. On completing his twenty-first year his parents induced him adjoining his inclination to wed Marie H. Blechkoll, the daughter of a hotel-keeper who brought him as her dowry the inn Zur Himmelsleiter. He continued his art studies though his wife managed the hotel. However, he now turned his attention to painting porcelain, to which art one of his guests, the porcelain-painter Trost, had introduced him. His completion was immediate, and when, after a married dynamism of five years, his wife died, he sold the hotel and normal a porcelain factory. The undertaking, which brought him a good income, led him to travel in Austria, Hungary, and Turkey; in Vienna he made the acquaintance of several prominent artists, under whose suggestion he trained as a colourist.

At the start of the nineteenth century, however, when Western Germany repeatedly became the scene of French invasions, Frank’s issue interests suffered severely. It was after that that his attention turned in a wholly additional direction. At the shop of a business buddy named Wirth he met an Englishman to whom Wirth sold some fragments of ancient coloured glass for what seemed to Frank a large sum. On inquiry he found that the high price paid was because the art of painting in glass which had been coloured though molten – an art which had produced so many church and palace windows during the Middle Ages and the in advance Renaissance – had been categorically lost during the eighteenth century. Frank clear to recover the drifting secret of this art. Unaided and untaught, he worked for several years to reach his purpose; his savings quick disappeared, and his expertise seemed more and more doubtful. His links expressed fears that he would become a financial and mental wreck, and urged him to hand over his efforts.

But Frank persevered, and in 1804 there came a slant in his fortunes. He had found at last the method of producing coloured glass which he had suitably long sought. His first commission was to paint the jacket of arms of the Rhenish Count Schenk, for his chapel in Greifenstein in Franconia. When this glass-painting was seen by the travelling agent of a London art home named Rauh, a Nuremberger in the tune of Frank himself, he felt at later than that Frank’s take effect was comparable to the ancient glass-painting the indistinctive of which had been lost. He hastened to Nuremberg, saw Frank, and made thing arrangements behind him. Frank now made several hundred pieces for the English market, some of which made their showing off to Philadelphia and Baltimore. But the abandonment of Rauh in 1807 put an stop to Frank’s riches and might have had serious consequences had not King Maximilian I of Bavaria become the artist’s patron (1808).

Frank’s triumph of the royal Bavarian coat of arms made a great impression on the king and the latter not unaided paid him generously, but turned higher than to him for factory purposes the building called the Zwinger, in Nuremberg. Henceforth Frank produced many works for King Maximilian, such as the Circumcision, after Hendrick Goltzius; the Nativity; the Passion, six parts after Lucas van Leyden; the Mosque of Cordoba; St. Barbara, after Holbein; the Judgment of Solomon, after Raphael; the Magi, after Rubens. For King Louis I, also, Frank executed many commissions, especially the glass decorations of the cathedral of Ratisbon.

In 1818 Maximilian appointed Frank painter in glass at the royal porcelain factory in Munich, with a salary of 800 florins annually. When, in 1827, Maximilian’s successor usual the royal institute for glass-painting, Frank was entrusted with anything the arrangements and following the highbrow management, particularly in the same way as the preparation of the colours to be used and the build of the coloured glass plates. He was as a consequence charged when instructing assistants in the secrets of his craft. Here he worked until 1840 gone he retired when an annual income of 1200 florins. He died, aged 76, in Munich.

He was the daddy of many children, of whom the most prominent was the historical painter Julius Frank. Among his links were the physicist Fraunhofer and the Viennese glass-painter Molin, who praised Frank’s colouring, especially his reds and his flesh colour.

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