In a handful of pen-and-ink drawings, Manuel developed the fantastic rock formations, which often decorate the backgrounds of his paintings and figure drawings, into independent compositions. Without any concern for a realistic overall effect or consistency of scale, groups of buildings, overgrown cliffs, anthropomorphic rock formations, and protruding, isolated trees flow from the draughtsman's pen. The distant horizon indicated by single, rapid strokes of the pen appear directly adjacent to the calligraphic hatching of the rugged cliffs. Nonetheless, the entire image is structured upon the page in a way that is precisely calculated and fully capable of making the viewer forget all of the inconsistencies on account of its imposing monumentality. The absence of a coherent light source, despite the strong shadows and highlights among the cliffs, is singular and characteristic; the sculptural effect is thus retained even if the page is reversed or seen from an angle. The significant alterations at the left in the area of the island’s base, which was originally wider, and a contour line extending into the sky at the right both give an indication of the draughtsman's working process.


  • Title: Rocky Island
  • Creator: Niklaus Manuel Deutsch
  • Date: 1515
  • Physical Dimensions: w19.9 x h25.9 cm
  • Type: Paper
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink
  • Inv.-No.: KdZ 14698
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Jörg P. Anders │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Gero Seelig
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Place of Death: Bern, Switzerland
  • Artist Place of Birth: Bern, Switzerland
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1484 - 1530.04.28

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