MASTER M Z
German engraver. Twenty-two engravings are signed with the initials MZ, six of them dated (1500, 1501, 1503). In the absence of appreciable stylistic or technical development and because the artist's sources - Albrecht Dürer's prints from the 1490s in particular - are no later than the dated prints, it is thought that all the production was concentrated c. 1500. The prints are equally divided between religious and secular subjects. Often a state of disquiet inhabits the figures, accompanied by eccentric use of perspective and abrupt changes in scale, as seen for example in The Embrace and Solomon's Idolatry. Most of his works have landscape backgrounds executed with a delicate, atmospheric touch that suggests a precursor of Albrecht Altdorfer and other painters of the Danube school.
The Ball and The Tournament (1500), companion pieces that represent a court festival in Munich, are the principal evidence that the artist was active in that city. The same hand may have engraved a reliquary plaque (1501; Andechs, pilgrimage church of Mariae Verkündigung) commissioned by the Munich Brotherhood of Butchers. This similarity has supported the contention that the Monogrammist MZ was the Munich goldsmith Matthäus Zasinger (active 1498-1555), though the burin work more readily suggests the hand of a painter than that of an engraver. Accordingly the Master has been attributed with eight panels with scenes from the Life of St Lawrence (c. 1505-07; Berching, Lorenzkirche). Noting the similarities of form and expression between the engravings of Master MZ and the paintings of Master MS (active 1521), who was active in Hungary and is also associated with the Danube school, it has been argued that the paintings and engravings are by the same hand. None of these or other proposed identities is yet persuasive.