KAGER, Johann Matthias
(b. 1575, München, d. 1634, Augsburg)
German painter and draughtsman. He trained in Munich (1588-98) as a painter of miniatures. He probably worked subsequently among a group of artists decorating the Munich Residenz according to Italian models. Kager's early works show the influence of Friedrich Sustris, Christoph Schwarz and Hans Rottenhammer I. There is no evidence that Kager himself visited Italy. His drawings from the first years of the 17th century show that he had studied the art of Rudolfine Prague, including the works of Bartholomäus Spranger and Hans von Aachen. Some copper engravings by Kager date from 1600 to 1603.
In 1603 Kager was granted the civic rights of Augsburg and the right to work as a painter of portraits and miniatures. From 1605 he received increasingly large commissions from the city and the Catholic clergy. He painted the façades of important buildings with historical scenes and allegories; he produced altarpieces and works for churches in Augsburg.
In 1615 Kager was appointed town painter of Augsburg. As such he received his most important commission, the decoration of the Rathaus, newly built (1615-19) by Elias Holl. Kager had overall artistic control, but he personally executed the ceiling and wall paintings for the Goldener Saal as well as paintings for the various administrative offices (1619-29). Alongside his artistic activities Kager held a series of public offices in Augsburg from 1611, rising to become burgomaster in 1631-32.
Kager was of an eclectic nature. He was influenced above all by the art of northern Italy, by the Mannerism of Rudolfine Prague and by the printed graphics of the Counter-Reformation.
Kager himself, like most of his German contemporaries, did not actually establish his own school of painting. Throughout his oeuvre religious themes are dominant: mythological subjects appear only in the early work. He moved from small-scale formats to work on a large scale, being chiefly active as an art administrator, a disseminator of ideas, a designer and a mediator.