Until very recently, one of the most neglected of all foundational primary sources in European painting history remained Sandrart’s Teutsche Academie (1675; Latin edition 1683), including a reliable modern edition of the entire text. Some of the urgency of that omission has been remediated in recent years by work on the artist-author himself, known as the Teutscher Apelles. For the Dutch Sandrart episode two major studies have now appeared: a dissertation on Jacob Backer, Govert Flinck, Ferdinand Bol, and Sandrart (pp. 103-145) by Erna Kok (University of Amsterdam, 2013); and a study of the wider context of the painter’s major role opposite Rembrandt in Amsterdam, magisterially limned by Eric Jan Sluijter (Rembrandt’s Rivals. History Painting in Amsterdam 130-1650, 2015, pp. 71-95).
Suddenly, our cup runneth over. An important recent (2008-12) on-line resource, known as “Sandrart.net” (http://ta.sandrart.net/de/) now presents the entire Sandrart text in the original, searchable (also in English) by artists and artworks, with further annotations, all skillfully edited by a team of scholars: Thomas Kirchner, Alessandro Nova, Carsten Blüm, Anna Schreurs (one of the editors of this review text), and Thorsten Wübbena. The current volume should be read in tandem with that on-line resource, on which it builds.
Sandrart’s original survey comprises three parts: antique artists, Italian masters, and those residing on “this side of the Alps.” Moreover, it surveys not just painters, like van Mander, but also follows Vasari to include sculptors and architects as well as notable patrons, poets, and scholars. Like the on-line version of the text, this volume also employs a team of experts, different specialties by period and medium, to survey Sandrart’s own broad achievement. Its organization follows that of the Teutsche Academie, book by book, with essays in English, German, Italian, and French, appropriately international.
Because of the sheer size of this volume and the range of its essays, this review for an HNA audience will concentrate on studies of Northern artists (from Book III, pp. 164-309). However, it should be noted that earlier sections of the book consider Sandrart’s take on ancient India and Chinese art (I), Greece (II; essays on Phidias, Zeuxis, and Apelles) and Renaissance Italy (IV; brief essays, respectively, on Titian and the sixteenth century, by Charles Hope; plus seventeenth-century artists, including: Carracci; Caravaggists, by Sebastian Schütze; Reni and etching; Lanfranco; Guercino; Bernini and sculpture; and Pietro Testa, by Elizabeth Cropper). Essays on Northern artists, are mixed (like both van Mander and Sandrart) to include Flemish, Dutch, and German artists. They feature studies by noted authorities: Dürer (Heike Sahm), Grünewald (famously christened by mistake by Sandrart; essay by Meurer, already the author of numerous Sandrart studies), Holbein (Stephanie Buck), Elsheimer (Rüdiger Klessmann), Rubens (Nils Büttner), Rembrandt (Eric Jan Sluijter), and two less celebrated contemporaries: Karel Skreta, a Bohemian (Stepán Vácha), and Johann Heinrich Schönfeld, a rare German peer (Hans-Martin Kaulbach). From Sandrart in Rome, studies of Cornelis Bloemart, with whom Sandrart collaborated on the 1630s print series, Galleria Giustiniana, after ancient sculptures (Jaco Rutgers), plus Testa (Cropper) and Poussin (Henry Keazor). Especially crucial for printmaking history is the fascinating contact of Sandrart with the invention of mezzotint, via the career of schwarze Kunst specialist Wallerant Vaillant (Simon Turner), part of the versatile Sandrart’s uncommon fascination for graphic arts and collaboration with engravers for his publication. This section of the current volume concludes with a useful, if brief discussion of Sandrart as the author of this project, by Martin Disselkamp.
Among the essays, attention is paid to Sandrart’s sources, which still could comprise oral history (as for “Grünewald”) but could also give attention to local documentation, not yet acknowledged nor widely known, but still holding great value, such as Neudörffer’s 1547 ms. on Nuremberg artists, especially important for Sandrart’s ambition to chronicle German (alt-teutschen) art in the age of Dürer. His own Dürer life became foundational in turn for th e pious and industrious Romantic-era art-hero of German nationalists, but it utilized the artist’s own family history. Meurer’s fine study charts the Grünewald dead end for “Mathis of Aschaffenburg: through Dutch collector Pieter Spiering (now see Ilja Veldman in Simiolus 38, pp. 228-49 esp. 234-36). Buck also weighs Holbein sources and experiences and also points to a travel diary by Sandrart’s numismatist friend Charles Patin (d. 1633) as a likely text source. Sandrart’s informed biography of his fellow townsman Elsheimer proves reliable, as Klessmann notes.
Later artists Sandrart had met personally, especially Rubens, whose 1627 visit is traced and analyzed critically by Büttner within its comprehensive biography as ideal artistic renown. (An English translation of Sandrart’s vita of Rubens, by Kristin Belkin, is available in a booklet published by Pallas Athene, London, 2005, with an introduction by Jeremy Wood.) By contrast, Sluijter reassesses both Sandrart’s text and his art in the Dutch context (1637-45); he is revisionist, situating the words and works (three illustrations) positively (along with the artist). Within a lively local pictorial dialectic, Sandrart positioned himself as a cosmopolite among provincials, appealing in Amsterdam to both a social and intellectual elite. That same rhetorical self-fashioning reappears in Disselkamp’s study of Sandrart’s persona, operating as a prototype or model, conceived either (to use the terms of his early biographer, Sigmund von Birken) as the Teutscher Apelles or as an industrious “art bee,” eagerly collecting his biographies like masterpieces, as did Zeuxis seeking ideal beauty (or like the Galleria Giustiniani classical sculptures as models). His goal: to promote a general, new bloom of art and to preserve the fame of past artists, especially in the wake of the disastrous Thirty Years War, in a true, newly German academy.
A treasure-house of new information, especially on those wide-ranging contexts personally experienced by the cosmopolitan Sandrart across Europe (Venice, Rome, Nuremberg, Amsterdam), this international volume addresses both Sandrart’s experience of his native artistic tradition as well as his personal contact with many of his artist contemporaries. As a result, this rich study adds further commentary in depth to anyone making use of the valuable, annotated, on-line text edition of his indispensable text.
University of Pennsylvania