An entrepreneurial furniture salesman from the south German city of Augsburg who mediated cultural exchanges between princely, ducal, and private patrons, the merchant Philipp Hainhofer (1578-1647) ultimately won the title of diplomat to mark a level of service to a social circle to which he was not originally born. As a result he could influence his well-born clients and gain their confidence in his artistic choices. Hainhofer forms the center of an exhaustive study by Michael Wenzel, for whom the agent’s commercial and artistic activities are inextricable. Wenzel’s book provides a lucid and engaging account of the confessional, geo-political, and artistic climate of Hainhofer’s affairs.
Wenzel’s study contextualizes Hainhofer within a diplomatic and mercantile ambient, arguing for his role as a cultural power broker (12). While previous studies have concentrated on either aspect, this book resists a hierarchy; instead, it considers their interplay, which emerges from Hainhofer’s own correspondence: merchant and agent in artistic and luxury transactions; diplomat; spy; patron and designer of luxury goods; book agent; travel writer, and facilitator of knowledge exchange. Wenzel’s book reconstructs his various roles. He resituates Hainhofer at the center of increasingly exchange-driven production of art and views him as a self-conscious dealer in diplomacy. These diplomatic exchanges emerge in commissions for the art cabinet, or Kunstschrank.
Several research areas from Wenzel’s study structure my review: the history of collecting; diplomacy; and the history of early modern knowledge-creation. An entrepreneurial culture broker, Hainhofer left an indelible mark on the history of collecting. Wenzel asserts that Hainhofer’s cultural activity also served the ends of an irenic-Protestant diplomacy (p.12) among various European court centers. In his record-keeping about ideas for cabinets and in his travels, Hainhofer’s writings intersected with contemporary modes of book-making. The cabinets that Hainhofer designed for his patrons can also be considered as vessels for art’s own knowledge-making claims, including the use of prints, repurposing of spolia, technical advances in display techniques, and data collection. Wenzel brings four cabinets into focus: the Stipo Tedesco (1619-25), the Pommersche Kunstschrank (1610-1617), the Gustav Adolf-Schrank (1625-31), and the Wiener Schrank (1631-34). These commissions are addressed throughout the book as they relate to Hainhofer’s program of merchant diplomacy, but their programs are also the subject of focused discussion in Chapter Four.
Hainhofer introduced new patterns of consumption that attracted his patrons and associates. He fanned a flame for luxury goods, especially for Kunstschrank cabinetry, and he influenced their patterns of knowledge-making. Hainhofer’s dealings incited demands for goods that he fed in both his relationships and his writings. He mediated between diverse styles and sifted them through current craft-practice in the free-imperial city of Augsburg. Then he recycled these forms for other court contexts. For example, Hainhofer adapted designs for secular cabinets from the Florentine ducal court, and through his exposure to Wittelsbach collections design in Munich, he customized a transalpine cabinet idiom for north German Duke Philip II of Pommern-Stettin. Later, after Hainhofer abandoned bespoke cabinets, designs adapted from Florence made their way back to the Medici court. The Tuscan cabinet, known as the Stipo Tedesco, is an excellent example of how designs were translated through Hainhofer. From an original base in coin collections, Hainhofer’s Stipo Tedesco merged the antiquities cabinet with sacral furniture design. Hainhofer borrowed a formula for Counter-Reformation sacral furniture (via Vasari’s designs for a ciborium in Santa Croce) and returned it onto the market as a vessel for worldly goods. The Stipo Tedesco, given as a gift to Duke Ferdinando II de Medici, c. 1628, became a display showcase through the unique feature of a rotating deck that permitted four different interior views by means of a gear set with ball-bearings (p. 191).
Hainhofer’s cabinets reflected current aspects of collecting in the ducal and princely Kunstkammern. He sometimes imported these modes of organization into his own cabinets, Kunstkammern in miniature, which compartmentalized and organized specimens of nature, coins, and spolia. Hainhofer’s cabinets also included engraved plates of precious materials, enamel work, examples of pietra dure, paintings on alabaster, and wood intarsia. Themes typically featured included: allegories of the continents, the elements, the world-upside down, trick images, Mischwesen and hybrid forms inspired by the Domus Aurea, and popular erotic subjects from the European print market. Among the innovations of Hainhofer’s cabinets derived from the Kunstkammern, are their housing for items of everyday use. They also contained utilitarian domestic objects in compartments for pharmaceuticals, utensils for eating or grooming, tools for crafts, and toys (p.281). They also included game boards, and could be adjusted as surfaces for reading and writing. Consequently, Wenzel see these Kunstschränke as contributing to a study of artisanal activities and intellectual processes rather than following the trajectory of Kunstkammer theory.
Some of Hainhofer’s early art cabinets were conceived for their patrons as gestures of ducal gifting and diplomacy. For Wenzel, Hainhofer’s influence on their iconographic programs argues for his personal agency in diplomatic schemes and in transfers of political power. For example, Hainhofer successfully challenged the program developed by advisors to Duke Philipp II for the Pommersche Kunstschrank. Instead of a planned genealogy that presented the Pommern-Stettin family as heirs to King David, Hainhofer lobbied vehemently for replacing the biblical king with a more generalized representation of Philipp II’s court at Pommern as Parnassus surmounted by Pegasus. He managed to convince the duke that this iconography of the origins of the muses would be received as a more pacific gesture than the original designs (p. 237). This particular intervention, Hainhofer argued, would claim a measured neutrality against the backdrop of the Jülich succession struggles (p. 229). Wenzel thus argues that Hainhofer’s refashioning of the Pomeranian court as a mount of muses more productively channeled his patron’s initial attempts at self-fashioning into more universal themes of pacifism. The theme of muses also translated humanist ideas popular in Hainhofer’s city of Augsburg, in iconography already active in the frescoed collections chamber of Hans Fugger devised by Friedrich Sustris, recorded in engravings by Lukas Kilian as a basis for these designs (p. 225).
Other, more subtle modifications reveal Hainhofer’s influence. Even though the Stipo Tedesco was imprinted with a religious program that revolved around the Triumph of Christ, Hainhofer imported elements in amber, a substance associated with the north and within the culture of Protestant territories, and also to be interpreted as God’s favor with the Reform faith (p. 252). For some other cabinets whose iconography mingled Old Testament and mythological typologies and other motifs relating to the organization of the heavens, the elements, and the liberal arts, specifically the Stipo Tedesco and the Gustav Adolf-Schrank, Hainhofer sought a middle path of a supra-confessional program. Such apparent neutrality was prudent in the case of cabinets that might have been envisioned as components of confessional discourse, but then found themselves back on the market. Long lag-times in production occasionally voided contractual arrangements—thus cabinets that were less tailored to ideologies of particular patrons could more easily find buyers in the marketplace.
Some motifs for two later cabinets, both destined for Sweden, were intended for Protestant patrons who were also military leaders. The Gustav Adolf Schrank and the Wiener Schrank featured figures and motifs that bore the trappings of military office. Here, Wenzel reads evidence of the martial presence superseding the civic order. The Gustav Adolf-Schrank, given in 1632 to the Swedish king by the Augsburg city council as a gift and a bribe that spared Augsburg from plunder as his troops entered Augsburg, show how cabinets could function more forthrightly as political pawns for Protestant sympathizers. Wenzel also shows how the iconography in these politically and confessionally charged exchanges tended toward a general celebration of themes relating to power generally, including erotica, versus heavily-laden allegorical programs.
Diplomacy was on display in the subject matter ultimately devised for Hainhofer’s patrons, but Wenzel also tracks the activity of Hainhofer himself as a diplomat/dealer, and argues convincingly for his role as a “double-agent,” who mediated both political as well as artistic exchanges. He compares Hainhofer’s networking prowess with that of Peter Paul Rubens, an artist whose social clout earned him a significant role as a political mediator on behalf of his Habsburg regents (p.278). Wenzel reads Hainhofer’s mediated diplomatic exchanges against the unrepentant artistic plunder typical of political self-fashioning during the Thirty Years War (p. 309). So enlightened and cunning was his diplomacy that we are tempted to believe, with Hainhofer’s own report of his delivery of the Kunstschrank in Pommern, that the court-sponsored fireworks (p.283) were really for him.
The representational program of Hainhofer’s Kunstschränke followed these attempts to systematize and encapsulate knowledge at dollhouse-scale in a way resembling the microcosm confected by the Kunstkammern. While Wenzel argues that Hainhofer’s cabinets did not follow Samuel Quiccheberg’s strict categories for organization of the Kunstkammer in his treatise on museums, the Inscriptiones vel Tituli Theatri amplissimi (1565), they did similarly contain objects of intrinsic, artistic, and exotic value. They were conceived as a container of all knowledge, like that proposed by Quiccheberg, a model of “cognitio rerum omnium” (282). Here, Wenzel invokes Detlef Heikamp’s succinct comparison of the Kunstschrank to a sentient organism: a “(mute)… Domestic with a philosophical brain.” (p. 281).
Hainhofer’s Kunstshränke crystallized social networks that valued ingenuity, craft, and artisanal production. Networks established by Hainhofer provoked similar collecting practices, gift strategies, and, of course, new commissions. The organization of craftsmanship that Hainhofer engineered for the Kunstschränke reflects a diplomacy akin to what he performed among his cabinets’ recipients. Insofar as the representational functions of the cabinets exceeded the sum of their parts, their unpacking lends itself well to the discourses of gift-exchange and thing-theory. The type of craft production required to display exotica, valuable raw materials, artifacts from antiquity, and mythologizing programs makes this material ripe for studies of artisanal epistemology and technical ingenuity.
Wenzel’s volume will be important source material for interdisciplinary scholars of early modern globalism, insofar as Hainhofer’s cabinets were themselves vessels of cross-cultural transformations—they transgressed geographic, political, cultural, and economic borders. Hainhofer’s marketing offensives could generate reconsiderations of agency in art production. These cabinets were partly commission-based, but also indebted to market forces and recycling practices. They changed not only patterns of consumption, but also business models for art, as Hainhofer abandoned the model of the peripatetic traveling salesman in favor of stimulating business from his home office of Augsburg. Students of the Kunstkammer will also find much to trace here in the influencers who were just as critical as the patrons who previously formed the focus of these studies. Wenzel amplifies scholarship in the vein of Pamela Smith, Paula Findlen, Sven Dupré, and Robert Felfe, who have all made critical advances in discipline formation around natural processes and the academic collections behind them. Wenzel’s volume could also furnish an early chapter in the philosophy of the history of collections. The philosopher Krzysztof Pomian reflected recently on the founding of many of Germany’s public collections by industrialists of the Bildungsbürgertum, by encouraging audiences to consider those monuments through the lens of the history of capitalism. Philipp Hainhofer can arguably be seen as the enterprising agent who partly reclaims the early history of collecting from princely houses to showcase himself, the shapeshifting merchant-burgher at the heart of these transactions.
Florida State University