Master of the Playing Cards

The Master of the Playing Cards was the first major master in the history of printmaking. He was a German engraver, and probably also a painter, active in southwestern Germany - probably in Alsace, from the 1430s to the 1450s, who has been called "the first personality in the history of engraving."
Various attempts to identify him have not been generally accepted, so he remains known only through his 106 engravings, which include the set of playing cards in five suits from which he takes his name. The majority of the set survives in unique impressions, most of which are in the Kupferstich-Kabinett in Dresden and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. A further 88 engravings are regarded as sufficiently close to his style to be by his pupils.
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