In June 1997 a conference on the collecting of prints and drawings in Europe, c. 1500-1750, was held at the National Gallery, London, organized by The Burlington Magazine and sponsored by the Getty Provenance Index.* “The unusually focused, cohesive, and intersecting character of the talks … and the animated discussion they aroused, meant that the whole amounted to much more than a sum of its parts.” It was therefore decided that the talks should be published as they, to quote again Caroline Elam, one of the editors, “would serve a useful purpose in bringing together studies of some of the principal themes and individuals involved in the history of collecting works on paper in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe, as well as unifying research on prints and drawings, which often remain the objects of parallel but separate endeavours.” The resulting book contains ten of the original fifteen papers, with one additional contribution (Mark P. McDonald). The other two editors are Christopher Baker, the organizer of the conference, as the then editor of The Burlington Magazine, and Genevieve Warwick, who contributed an engaging introduction to the anthology. Before considering the importance of the compilation as a whole, I would like to begin by briefly discussing the individual essays.
Anthony Griffiths’s fascinating article examines how collectors approached their prints: it discusses albums, portfolios, backing sheets, margins, mounts, and annotations, and how they developed in the course of time and what the reasons were for the changes. The method of mounting a print, of which sometimes remains only some glue residue on the back, quite often provides insight into its history, i.e., the country and century of the former owner. Sometimes it even reveals a specific collector. Griffiths ends with the “vitally important [note] that what survives is what collectors put into albums,” while all the rest (i.e., prints for the mass market and international trade) did not.
David Landau and Mark P. McDonald discuss the print collection of Ferdinand Columbus (1488-1539), the natural son of Christopher, who owned an extraordinary collection of 3,204 prints, of which the bulk inventory, edited and annotated by Ferdinand himself survives, containing lengthy descriptions of every print. In the meantime, Landau’s and McDonald’s articles have been superceded by the latter’s exemplary three-volume publication, The Print Collection of Ferdinand Columbus 1488-1539, a Renaissance Collector in Seville. History and Commentary (2004; reviewed in this journal April 2005), but their talks must have been a thrill in 1997. Something of the original excitement comes still through in Landau’s clear introductory text recounting his rediscovery of the manuscript in Seville. McDonald dives deeper into the manuscript, explaining Columbus’s curious classification system (size, subject matter, the number of items in the image, dressed or undressed), the collection maintenance and the different scribes. Despite great difficulties, McDonald has been able to match many of the prints described with existing impressions, which now can be dated with more accuracy due to the terminus ante quemprovided by the date of the inventory. The inventory is especially important since many of the prints Columbus owned no longer survive in any impression. Columbus seems to have been an enthusiastic purchaser of prints with a preference for the larger, more expensive ones. All the careful noting of details of his prints in the inventory, including artists’ monograms, was not so much from a (twentyfirst-century) connoisseur’s perspective but rather to make sure that he would not buy the same image twice. However, this does not prevent it from being the most important inventory of prints to survive from the Renaissance period.
Matteo Lafranconi writes about Antonio Tronsarelli (?1528-1601), a Roman collector of whom he discovered a post-mortem inventory, where among other things, around 350 drawings are described. The exacting way in which they are catalogued – three-quarter have specific attributions – is quite remarkable for such an early date and often allows Lafranconi to match descriptions with existing drawings. Also extraordinary is the fact that 35 sheets were framed and presumably hung on the wall, outnumbering Tronsarelli’s 15 paintings. Among the draftsmen, predominantly sixteenth-century Roman artists, were some contemporaries of Tronsarelli. The northern artists were Albrecht Dürer, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Dionys Calvaert. Lafranconi had previously published this great discovery in 1998 (The Burlington Magazine, 140, August) including, in the appendix, a transcription of the inventory. Thus the article in the present book is basically a repetition of the author’s earlier article, without the useful appendix. (Therefore one will not find a reference to the “paesino a olio in una prospettiva de mano de Pietro Broghiel,” which was kept in an album [ibid, p. 547]). Regrettably, together with the omission of the transcription of the inventory, its location has been omitted too.
Michael Bury explores in some detail Giulio Mancini’s comments on a collection of art on paper in the latter’s Considerazioni sulla Pittura(1617-1621). These comments, which occur in a general section on display, acknowledge the existence of such collections that were actually part of paintings collections. As Bury rightly observes, discussion of such a phenomenon has often been neglected in the modern literature. However, I think one point Bury brings up could be clarified further. In Mancini’s own words, albums should be created according to “le materie, tempi, grandezza di foglio, nationi e modo di disegno, s’a penna, lapis e carbone, acquarella, chiara scuro, tenta a olio, così ancora nei disegni di taglio … .” Bury, who interprets this to mean that albums be first classified by subject matter and then by period, size, etc., uses the quote to explain why in an aesthetic collection ‘subject matter’ received such prominence for arranging prints (Bury ignores the drawings), as in Mancini’s painting-display discussion. Although Bury cleverly argues the point, I wonder whether in this case the analogy between prints and paintings is entirely appropriate since it would seem, at least in my view, that Mancini was simply listing the possible ways of arranging works on paper without stressing one way over the other.
Jeremy Wood writes about Nicholas Lanier (1588-1666), one of the first serious collectors of drawings in England, and his collection, largely made up of sixteenth-century Italian art. From the beginning of the eighteenth century, a series of star-shaped marks have been associated with Lanier. Like an astronomer, Wood examines each star (introducing several new ones he recently discovered), in the end creating a glowing, multi-star-spangled sky. Not only Nicholas Lanier used star marks, in all likelihood also his uncle, Jerome. Wood’s knowledge of the collector marks of the Laniers is unsurpassed; it does not stop with the star marks, also Lanier’s handwritings and his mounts are discussed.
Diana Dethloff gives a clear, well-written account of the drawings and prints collection of Peter Lely (1618-1680), its character, formation and arrangement. The drawings collection, whose main focus was sixteenth-century Italy, contained very few northern examples, such as works by Maerten van Heemskerck, Cornelis van Poelenburch, Cornelis Saftleven, and Anthony van Dyck (his Italian sketchbook, now in the British Museum, and oil sketches for his Iconography). Dethloff expresses surprise at the lack of Rubens or Rembrandt drawings. However, as the entire Dutch and Flemish schools were practically absent, this neglect seems rather consistent to me and hardly surprising. (By the way, most of the early collectors of Rubens drawings seem to have been more interested in his Italian retouched sheets – and these were the ones Lely had – than in the Flemish master’s own work.) In this respect a remark of Bainbrigg Buckeridge, an early biographer of Lely, may be illuminating: “In his younger days he [Lely] was very desirous to finish the course of his studies in Italy, but being hindered from going thither by the great business he was perpetually involved in, he resolved to make himself amends, by getting the best drawings, prints and Paintings of the most celebrated Italian Hands.” Of course there was a general appreciation of Italian drawings at the time in England, but Lely’s reasons for collecting Italian drawings or drawings by northern artists made in Italy as substitute for the “real thing” might at least partially be his own. The quality of Lely’s print collection (again predominantly Italian) was particularly noteworthy, as Dethloff makes clear. Her discovery of Roger North’s annotations on Lely’s prints of the portfolio lettering and numbering, in all likelihood reflecting the collector’s original arrangement, eventually will allow a reconstruction of his collection. Interestingly, it seems Lely organized his prints partly by state.
Genevieve Warwick concentrates on the emergence of the connoisseurial drawings collection in late seventeenth-century Italy, which she does by way of Padre Resta. As Resta’s primary concern was making attributions, he was particularly interested in defining an artist’s individual style in terms of handling. To visualize the artistic influences genealogia de pittori were created. Another important issue for Resta was the judging of quality, which should be done with historical contingency. Resta recognized drawings themselves as (important historical) documents. Along the same line he thought connoisseurs should explore and preserve archival documents, among the latter also attribution and provenance history of individual drawings. Warwick concludes by stating that Resta used the drawings to chart the history of art in visual terms, constructing his albums to strengthen connoisseurial skill in interpreting visual evidence and developing visual memory. Warwick’s eloquent arguments are very persuasive. My only question is: where does ‘chauvinism’ come in? Was Resta’s drawings album Felsina Vindicata contra Vasarium, in which he tried to glorify the schools of Bologna against those of Florence, just a rare incident?
Carol Gibson-Wood and Cordélia Hattori focus on the drawings collections of, respectively, Jonathan Richardson Sr. (1667-1745) and Pierre Crozat (1665-1740), close contemporaries in England and France. Both collections were considered the most important in their respective country at the time and in both, the majority of the drawings were by Italian masters. Richardson’s collection, however, ‘only’ counted ca. 5,000 sheets, while Crozat had almost four times that amount. Furthermore, Richardson’s exceptional interests in Rembrandt and early Italian masters – something Gibson-Wood stresses – were less new in France at the time. This difference in quantity and the new connoisseurial interest in England, however, are not so surprising. If we are to believe Richardson, the English lagged far behind the Italians, French, Dutch and Flemish in connoisseurship. Richardson used a collector’s mark, Crozat did not, but the small numbers in pen and brown ink added at the time of the Crozat sale are a secure way of recognizing sheets from his collection. Crozat arranged his collection for the most part according to schools and chronology. Unfortunately, we are still left in the dark as to how Richardson had his collection organized, despite the elaborate shelfmark-system he left us on the back of his drawings and mounts. Again, much of the information given by the two authors was published elsewhere: Hattori in her detailed study on Crozat’s drawings collection in the Bulletin de la Societé de l’Histoire de l’Art français (1997), pp. 179-208, and Gibson-Wood in her monograph: Jonathan Richardson. Art Theorist of the English Enlightment, London 2000.
Nicholas Turner offers insight into his ongoing study of the drawings collection of Cavaliere Francesco Maria Niccolò Gabburri (1676-1742), a member of the court of Grand Duke Cosimo III. Gabburri’s collection was particularly strong in drawings by his Florentine contemporaries, such as Antonio Gabbiani, Alessandro Gherardini and Tommaso Redi. The drawings were preserved in albums, some of them by artists, some arranged iconographically by subjects (apparently no chronological series). Many of the drawn portraits of artists were framed behind glass. Identifying several drawings as from Gabburri’s collection through numberings and annotations on the back and through descriptions in surviving inventories, Turner is able not only to correct provenances of individual sheets, but also of larger groups of drawings; it was unknown for instance that the majority of the Italian drawings of William Fawkener (died 1768), now in the British Museum, came almost directly from Gabburri.
Although a very handy book, literally (light and small) and figuratively (bringing together a lot of relatively recently found information), my opinion of it is decidedly mixed. I greatly appreciate the initiative of the symposium and even more the effort that was put into publishing the papers (the more so since I did not attend the gathering in London). On the other hand I cannot but be slightly disappointed by the end result. First, five of the eleven papers bring more or less old news. In the cases of Lafranconi, Hattori, and Gibson-Wood, this was already known when the anthology was prepared for press. With Landau and McDonald it was clear their articles would be surpassed within a year.
The volume indeed should be commended for the cohesiveness and intersecting character of its contributions, as Caroline Elam aptly notes, but considering its restrictive subject matter, this is not so surprising. Apart from one Spanish and one French collector, the book is entirely devoted to collecting in England and Italy, and the discussed art is virtually all Italian. Collectors from German-speaking countries or from the Netherlands (North and South) are conspicuously absent. Basilius Amerbach, Jan de Bisschop, Laurens van der Hem, Carl Heinrich von Heinecken, Joris Hoefnagel, Samuel van Huls, Paul von Praun, Valerius Röver, Joachim von Sandrart, and Rudolf II, to mention only a few, do not even appear in the index. The inclusion of at least some of the papers dealing with collecting in Germany and the Netherlands delivered at the conference would have been welcome (see note 1). Another indication of the unfamiliarity with collecting on the northern European continent becomes clear from the cited literature, or better from its absence. Diana Dethloff laments how complicated and confusing the history of the Arundel Collection becomes after the death of the Earl and Countess. She was evidently not aware of Sam Dudok van Heel’s article on Arundel, which appeared in 1975 (“De kunstverzamelingen Van Lennep en de Arundel tekeningen,” Jaarboek Amstelodamum 67 ). Similarly, Hattori ought to have cited Peter Schatborn’s seminal article on early collections of Rembrandt drawings of 1981 (“Van Rembrandt tot Crozat. Vroege verzamelingen met tekeningen van Rembrandt,” Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 32 ). Schatborn has a separate section on Crozat’s Rembrandt drawings. More importantly, it should be stressed that it was Schatborn in his 1981 article, who discovered that the drawings formerly in the Crozat collection were numbered and that Pierre-Jean Mariette wrote these numbers.
It is because of these lacunae, symptomatic of an overall neglect for considering the history of collecting in German speaking countries and the Netherlands, that the anthology, as lucidly written and scholarly as it is, may be viewed by some as a missed opportunity.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
* Many thanks to Anne Varick Lauder, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, who commented on an earlier draft of this review. The fact that she, unlike me, has first-hand knowledge of the London conference was also very helpful.
 Not included are the following papers: Ger Luijten on collections of seventeenth-century genre prints; Bernd Mayer on the collection of Fürst Maximilian Willibald von Waldburg-Wolfegg; Jane Roberts on Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel’s Leonardo drawings; Peter Parshall on John Evelyn’s Sculptura; and Catherine Monbeig-Goguel on the drawings housed at the Académie Royale, Paris.
 B. Buckeridge, An Essay towards an English School of Painting, reproduction of 3rd ed., 1754; originally bound with R. de Piles, The Art of Painting … (1706/17 …1754); facsimile reprint, London 1969, p. 402.
 J. Richardson sr., An Essay on the Whole Art of Criticism as it Relates to Painting and an Argument in Behalf of the Science of the Connoisseur, London 1719