When I ordered the book about Kircher from Ediciones Siruela in Madrid (see the previous entry), I took the opportunity to order a second volume from them, one that had been recommended to me a couple of years ago: their reprint edition of Wenzel Jamnitzer’s Perspectiva Corporum Regularium. I had happened upon Jamnitzer’s work while looking, unsuccessfully, for images from a book published by his grandson, Christoph Jamnitzer (1563-1618): the Neuw Grottessken Buch. A subsequent search at abebooks for this latter title turned up a listing for a copy of a 1966 reprint edition of it at das Antiquariat Donhofer & Moser, of Vienna. I ordered it; it arrived last week: the following images are details of scans from its pages.
The book comprises sixty-odd spectacularly exuberant, and often quasi-surreal engravings, introduced with an essay by one Heinrich Gerhard Franz. Glancing through the engravings, one notices recurring types of composition: lanscapes populated by putti, near-abstract ornamental patterns, &c. Herr Franz categorises them under ten headings: the first four of the images reproduced here belong to his category #6: Moströse Grottesklebewesen, aus Schnörkel- und Schweifwerkornament… and the remaining two to category #8: Grotteskturniere. Sadly, my solid ignorance of German prevents me extracting much more information from the text than that…
Wenzel Jamnitzer (1508-85) was born in Vienna, but later moved with his family to Nuremberg. Wenzel’s third son Hans (1538-1603) was Christoph’s father. All of them found renown as goldsmiths. Probably Christoph’s most famous work now is Der Mohrenkopfpokal, an elaborately-worked drinking vessel:
The German term pokal signifies a ceremonial drinking vessel, usually tall, with a set-on lid but no handle. Pokals were used for welcoming ceremonies and were typified by their luxurious and fanciful designs […] The form of the Jamnitzer pokal creates an expressive portrait of a young black African. The cup was probably commissioned around 1595 by the powerful Strozzi family of Florence, Italy, for the wedding of Filippo Strozzi and Maria Pucci. It later became the most important work in the treasure of the Wettiner family in Germany. In 1996 the pokal was recovered during excavations in a forest near Dresden in Germany, where it and other precious objects from Moritzburg Castle had been buried in 1945 to hide them from the invading Russian army—source here.
Jamnitzer’s designs are, perhaps, a high-water-mark of a trend in Northern European mannerist grotesquerie that had begun in Antwerp in the 1550s, with the stylised designs of Cornelis Floris, and which had been continued by such artists and craftsmen as Joris Hoefnagel, in the illuminated alphabet appended to the Mira Calligraphiæ Monumenta, and by the brothers de Bry, in their Neiw Kunstliches Alphabet of 1595. Click on the details above to see the images in full.Posted by misteraitch at September 28, 2005 10:09 AM