German-born painter from Rottweil in Swabia, active in Switzerland and generally considered a member of the Swiss school. He entered the painters guild in Basle in 1434 and apparently spent the rest of his career there and in Geneva. Little else is known of him and few paintings by him survive. These few, however, show that he was remarkably advanced in his naturalism, suggesting a knowledge of the work of his contemporaries Jan van Eyck and the Master of Flmalle. In place of the soft lines and lyrical qualities of International Gothic we find in Witz s work heavy, almost stumpy, figures, whose ample draperies emphasize their solidity.
Witz s most famous works are the four surviving panels (forming two wings) from the altarpiece of St Peter he painted for the cathedral in Geneva. These are now in the Muse d Art et d Histoire there; the central panel is lost. One of the panels, the Miraculous Draught of Fishes,
is Witz s masterpiece and his only signed and dated work (1444). The landscape setting depicts part of Lake Geneva (one of the earliest recognizable landscape in art) and Witz s naturalism is even more remarkable in his observation of reflection and refraction in the water.
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