Hollstein’s German Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts 1400-1700; volume XLIX: Ludwig Schongauer to Martin Schongauer. Compiled by Lothar Schmitt, edited by Nicholas Stogdon. Rotterdam: Sound and Vision Publishers, 1999. ISBN 90-75607-40-7.
The New Hollstein German Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts 1400-1700. Jost Amman. Compiled by Gero Seelig, edited by Giulia Bartrum. 2 vols. Rotterdam: Sound and Vision Publishers, 2001. ISBN 90-75607-45-8/22-9.
The New Hollstein Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts 1450-1700. The De Gheyn Family. Compiled by Jan Piet Filedt Kok, Marjolein Leesberg, edited by Ger Luijten. 2 vols. Rotterdam: Sound and Vision Publishers, 2000. ISBN 90-75607-54-7/55-5.
The New Hollstein continues apace under the renewed supervision of Sound and Vision. Of course, some of the previous volumes offered random assortments of artists by alphabetical accident. The more recent publications, however, have deliberately gathered the complete works of individual artists – some of them relatively recent rediscoveries, such as the Doetecum brothers, others the bedrock founders of printmaking, such as Lucas van Leyden. These assorted newer publications fill in similar gaps. For a more general overview of the renewed series, the HNA review by Timothy Riggs (Vol. 18, No. 1, April 2001) provides essential background.
Chronologically, the earliest and most foundational figure from these new publications is Martin Schongauer, well studied since the time of Bartsch and, especially, Lehrs in the nineteenth century; the seminal catalogue of works was finally issued by Lehrs in 1925. Not all of the Hollstein volumes are graced with extended introductions, but the Schongauer historiography is well surveyed and analyzed here by Lothar Schmitt. After a biography of this uncommon artist, the author investigates the various technical aspects of his prints, including possible workshop delegation and added inscriptions or color (the subject of a new exhibition by Susan Dackerman at the Baltimore Museum). Discussion of placement of prints in collections offers a major contribution to our understanding of early print collecting. Schmitt concludes with a survey of Schongauer literature from Vasari to contemporary scholarship. Along with its fundamental bibliographical references, this essay is an exemplary contribution to the Hollstein series, with implications that extend well beyond Schongauer himself for any early print study.
Like Rembrandt studies, Schongauer print scholarship is on the eve of a new era, utilizing watermark and paper studies, especially with the researches by Stogdon, which informed this catalogue. As a reference work, this catalogue, using Lehrs numbers, is remarkably useful, including critical descriptions of sheets in American as well as European print rooms and much useful new information on states and copies. Illustrations are not particularly crisp, but they are often large and show different states. A useful index of repositories permits active use of individual print rooms, and there is a concordance to all major oeuvre catalogues.
In contrast, Jost Amman has been quite difficult to study and comprehend as a whole until his own new volume. Here the volume of prints is greater, and the compiler was not able to do the same kind of universal print room research, so only New York represents America. This is a shorter introduction, but all the more useful for taking on this neglected artist, whose later dates (1539-91) and divided citizenship between Zurich and Nuremberg have tended to leave him outside standard historical accounts. The catalogue is divided between etchings (surprisingly many to this reviewer) and the more familiar woodcuts, and the numerous book illustrations (such as the celebrated Book of Trades) are reserved for a later volume. Amman’s graphic ability emerges from both media, and it is clear that he made many drawings and designs on blocks that never survived. His technique fits nicely into a sequence of print production, which included sketchers, designers, woodcarvers, and publishers, including the goldsmith Wenzel Jamnitzer. In some special cases the artist himself seems to have carved his own blocks. Amman’s facility and contemporaneity with ornament such as strapwork figures in many of his etchings, and he also clearly refashioned graphic works by others, not just from Germanic regions but also Flanders. Subjects range from religious and history subjects to genre images, and sizes vary from enormous composite woodcuts, notably the Allegory of Commerce (no. 271), to small decorative schemes. Having at last a comprehensive illustrated catalogue will go far towards establishing the proper achievement of Jost Amman in the history of sixteenth-century graphics.
Jacques de Gheyn II has recently received outstanding scholarship from Dutch research, led by I. Q. van Regteren Altena and Filedt Kok, one of the compilers of this two-volume publication, so the standards of this New Hollstein Dutch volume are superlative, including Filedt Kok’s fine Introduction, updated from his 1990 studies in Print Quarterly. De Gheyn, already celebrated as a draughtsman, can now take his place just behind Goltzius in the pantheon of late sixteenth-century designer-printmakers-and print publishers. The volume of these engravings is impressive, and they are well illustrated here, if sometimes darkly, including all 117 illustrations and the title plate of the Wapenhandelinghe (“Exercise of Arms,” The Hague 1607; nos. 340-457). As was the case with Amman, de Gheyn’s career points to the collaborative nature of intaglio printmaking in Holland at the end of the sixteenth century, where designers, engravers, and publishers teamed up in varied combinations, often involving association with Latin poets (including Grotius) and dedications to particular patrons in the process. De Gheyn began as a professional engraver, associated with realizing Goltzius’s designs (and published by Goltzius, 1585-87) and those of other Haarlem contemporaries, especially Van Mander. He also made portraits and prints on official commissions in Leiden, then became a publisher in his own right in Amsterdam and Leiden (1592-c.1600), mostly after his own designs, often with Zacharias Dolendo as his engraver. Finally his designs and responsibility for engraving them were delegated to other publishers, including de Clerck in Delft and Hondius in The Hague (1610-15), perhaps with Andreas Stock as principal engraver. De Gheyn was also involved as engraver in the early publishing career in Amsterdam of Jacques Razet (act. 1593-1609). Like Goltzius, de Gheyn II seems to have stopped publishing abruptly around 1600, in part surely because of Dolendo’s death. His move to The Hague resulted in court commissions, such as a print of Prince Maurits’s Land-yacht, and immersion in drawing and painting, along with publication of the Wapen-handelinghe.
The catalogue is scrupulously thorough and includes images of title pages from series, though it also lacks records of de Gheyn prints in most American collections beyond New York. It also fails to note when prints are composed of more than a single sheet, though joins in the images often resolve this question. It is useful to have all three de Gheyn generations represented in this volume, but of course de Gheyn II is the star printmaker. Particularly useful in the catalogue, arranged by iconography, is the attributions of designer and engraver as well as designation of publishers. Inscriptions are transcribed in an appendix, a welcome detail for scholars.
Taken together, these new Hollstein volumes are precious reference resources for any future scholarship on Northern printmaking. The de Gheyn volumes stand out in particular, due to their particular timeliness in terms of scholarship, whereas Schongauer was better studied and Jost Amman will still achieve his full stature in the years to come.
University of Pennsylvania