Matthias Buchinger

In Memory of a Master of Micrographics - Matthias Buchinger at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

He had no arms or legs and was only 74 centimeters tall. Matthias Buchinger yet as an artist and magician traveled through the world and enchanted people. The Franconian, who lived from 1674 to 1740, is now dedicated an exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Matthias Buchinger was born in Ansbach near Nuremberg in 1674. He only had rudimentary trained hands, sitting at the elbow. Nevertheless, he was able to write fluently, even in mirror writing and even in mirror writing on the head. To this end, the little man has attached a self-cut feather at his thumb rest. Buchinger was a master of micrography. You call this term the art of writing that small so that the words cannot be identified with the naked eye. In one of his self-portraits, the displayed hair is made out of micrographic records based off seven historical psalms that are only readable on closer examination under the microscope.

However, that was not everything what "the greatest German" achieved in his life. Aware of the fact that his curious appearance would distract any observer, Buchinger taught himself the art of illusion. Soon afterwards, he traveled the royal families throughout Europe - as a magician and knife thrower. Even in the art-distant population of the 18th century, his magic tricks with cards, balls, cubes and towels caused quite a stir. They vested the little man from Nuremberg with the title "greatest living German". Moreover, it is exactly this headline the Metropolitan Museum of Art vested the exhibition of Matthias Buchinger.

Most of the exhibits therefore arrived from the magic historian Ricky Jay. The author of a standard work on knitting artists, jugglers and minstrels as a teenager collected anything that fell into his hands around Buchinger. Apart from Buchinger`s artworks, he was especially fascinated about the fact that the artist fathered 20 children in four marriages with his one and only properly functioning limb.

Even loans from the British Library and the State Library Bamberg illustrate the life of Matthias Buchinger at the Metropolitan Museum. The exhibition runs until April 11th, 2016. Consequently, Ricky Jay plans a film about Buchinger, which is to pay his reverence for the "greatest German".