John Roger Paas, The Sandrarts. Hollstein’s German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts, vols. XXXVIII to XLI. Rotterdam: Sound & Vision Interactive, 1994-1997. Vol. XXXVIII (Jacob von Sandrart) 251 pp., 277 b&w illus. ISBN 90-72658-42-6.
Vol. XXXIX (Jacob von Sandrart, cont.) 253 pp, 406 black and white illus. ISBN 90-72658-31-0, $350.
Vol. XL (Joachim von Sandrart, Joachim von Sandrart the Younger, Johann von Sandrart, Johann Jacob von Sandrart, Lorenz von Sandrart) 256 pp, 383 b&w illus. ISBN 90-72658-32-9.
Vol. XLI (Susanna Maria von Sandrart) 304 pp, 499 b&w illus. ISBN 90-72658-33-7.
As the heading of this review indicates, the project of cataloguing the prints of the Sandrart family amounts to no less than documenting a dynasty of artists and bringing together a monumental collection of German Baroque engravings and etchings. The patriarch of this dynasty, Joachim von Sandrart (1606-1688), was known more as a painter than as a printmaker, having been trained in that medium by Gerrit van Honthorst, whom he accompanied to the court of Charles I in England. Subsequent travels across Northern Europe and Italy were formative for Sandrart’s education as a learned painter and art historian. Sandrart associated with many leading artists and intellectuals, among them Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Galileo, and Vincenzo Giustiniani. Late in his career, Sandrart began the encyclopedic artistic treatise for which he is best known, the Teutsche Academie (Nuremberg, 1675).
Joachim’s nephew, Jacob von Sandrart, spent much of his career in Nuremberg, where he co-directed an academy of art founded there in the 1660s. Like his uncle, he enjoyed friendships with literati; however, he focused his artistic activity on printmaking and publishing, which may reflect the relatively high status that these fields enjoyed in relation to painting. The prints that bear his signature as engraver or etcher fill two of the Hollstein volumes of this series; on many more prints, he is designated as publisher. Jacob in fact established a profitable printing business, in which three of his children and at least one grandchild worked as engravers. The most prolific were Jacob’s daughter, Susanna Maria von Sandrart (1658-1716), who is represented by an entire volume (XLI) listing around 500 prints, and Jacob’s eldest son, Johann Jacob (1655-1698), who is the leading figure represented in vol. XL. In that same volume, we find four further prints connected with Jacob’s third child, Joachim von Sandrart the Younger (1668-1691), and two by Johann Jacob’s son Lorenz (c.1683-1753).
A survey of all four volumes will impress the reader with their range of imagery. Jacob’s catalogue offers numerous prints of emblems, larger religious and allegorical scenes, including the complex advertisements of completed doctoral theses known as Thesenblätter, frontispieces, calligraphy, maps, and portraits. Susannah, who learned much from her art historian great uncle Joachim, produced numerous reproductive prints after eminent artists, such as Raphael, Pietro da Cortona, Gerard de Lairesse and Jean Le Pautre, many of these grandiose wall- and ceiling paintings. After Le Pautre, Susannah also engraved and etched many designs for stucco mouldings, wall panels, and garden statues, fountains and vases, etc. Likewise, she reproduced numerous costume studies after Robert Bonnart and other French designers. It is as if her work served as a conduit for French taste in the German lands, the vase designs, for example, may have influenced similar works by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. Like her father, she also made beautiful frontispieces and emblem prints, as well as topographies and scenes of sea battles. Most striking in Susanna’soeuvre, however, are the costume studies, which involve numerous female representations. Most of these are personifications of virtues, along with a series of Amazons: all evoke the cosmopolitan realm of the salonistes. In the context of this material, it is sobering to find a less accomplished, multi-image broadsheet of a Topsy Turvy World, with its reactionary content, included in her catalogue (the example illustrated as no. 99 bears no signature). Finally, Johann Jacob’s engravings and etchings reflect the same rich variety as those of his sister and father. Artists whose work is reproduced in his prints include his grandfather, Joachim, as well as Raphael, Michael Willman, Salvator Rosa and Antonio Lafreri.
This well-illustrated four-part set will make valuable material accessible to a broader audience. One cannot underestimate the importance of these volumes for art historians, scholars of emblems, and indeed for a broader group of cultural historians of the seventeenth century. The editor and compiler, John Roger Paas, is a leading authority on German Baroque prints, and comes to this area of expertise through his background as a literary historian.
Finally, just a few comments and an addendum. The editing of these volumes involved meticulous reorganization and the banishment of a fictitious member of the family, who had emerged out of the confusion of print signatures: Johann Joachim von Sandrart! However, the rationale by which some volumes are arranged is not fully clear, as subjects are intermixed. Further, in the wake of the restructuring, the most prominent family member becomes insignificant. In vol. XL, Paas correctly re-attributed to other relatives prints formerly connected with Joachim von Sandrart. As a result, however, just four prints are now listed for him, all of these dated around 1640. As the editor himself acknowledges, this is a puzzlingly small number for a figure who was so interested in the medium, having learned engraving under no less than four masters in Nuremberg and Prague. By Sandrart’s own account, he was making engravings until the mid 1620s. Perhaps there is early material awaiting discovery in German libraries and archives.
Sabina Lessmann’s book on Susanna Maria von Sandrart (Hildesheim, 1991) is cited in the primary bibliography of vol. XLI. To this I add Lessmann’s article on Sandrart’s artistic training and twice-interrupted career in an article in the Woman’s Art Journal, 14, no. 1 (Spring/Summer, 1993), pp. 10-14. In that article, Lessmann names another female family member who was an etcher, but who has yet to appear in print catalogues: Jacob’s sister, Antoinette von Sandrart.
St. Lawrence University