Gerson Digital : Germany I

RKD STUDIES

2.13 Königsberg and Other Courts in North Germany

We return to 17th century and go to the remote Prussian residence of Königsberg [now Kaliningrad, Russia], where we also find artists with a Netherlandish training. A Cranach tradition in portraiture persisted here until about 1600, and was breached for the first time by painters who were attuned to the Netherlands. In the neighbouring Danzig [now Gdańsk ], for example, Anton Möller (c.1563/65-1611), who probably painted in Königsberg as well [1].1 Here a certain Daniel Rose († 1639/40) was active as a court painter since 1602.2 His portraits [2] follow the Dutch type established by Cornelis Ketel (1548-1616). In 1624 Christoph Singknecht, allegedly a Dutchman, decorated the former townhall in Löbenicht.3

Four years later Mathias Czwiczek was appointed as a court painter and soon he was sent for a year to Holland ‘to improve his art’.4 He connects to Rose, but his portraits are already much more free and realistic. As we have seen already above,5 they can be compared most closely to the works of Honthorst and are also slightly reminiscent of Abraham Wuchters. The East-Prussian poet Simon Dach, who sang Czwiczek’s praise, did not observe his work properly when he cited Goltzius, Spranger and Rubens [sic] as his examples, since he really was a step further. 6 Czwiczek’s assistant and apprentice Gabriel Wietzell was appointed as a court painter in 1641.7

1
Anton Möller
Last Judgement, c. 1585-1587?
panel, oil paint ? x ? cm
Königsberg in Preußen, Steindammer Kirche (Königsberg i. Pr.)

2
Daniel Rose
Portrait of Elector Johann Sigismund von Brandenburg, dated 1605
canvas, oil paint 147 x 85 cm
upper right : V.G.G./ Johans Sigiss/mundt. Marg./graf zu Bran/Denburgk In./ Preissen Hertzock./ Ao. 1.60.5.
Kaliningrad, Königsberger Schloss (Museum), inv./cat.nr. GK I 8027

3
Justus van Bentum
An old money-lender reading by candle-light,
canvas, oil paint 46 x 36 cm
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, inv./cat.nr. 5587

4
Dietrich Ernst Andreae
Self-portrait of Dietrich Ernst Andreae (c. 1680-1734) in green dressing gown, in or after 1716
canvas, oil paint 81,5 x 65,8 cm
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, inv./cat.nr. 185

Michael (1630-1706) and Peter Willmann († 1665), of whom we will speak in another place,8 stayed here temporarily, and at the end of the century the Leiden Justus van Bentum (1670-1727) [3], who also worked at other German courts, moved to Königsberg. There in the east Dietrich Ernst André (c. 1680-c. 1734)9 who became his pupil, accompanied him on his trips for 12 years. Even in André’s works the Dutch training still is visible [4-6].10

5
Dietrich Ernst Andreae
Self-portrait of Dietrich Ernst Andreae (c. 1680-1734) in green dressing gown, between 1717-1719
canvas, oil paint 78 x 64 cm
lower right : Andre
Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, inv./cat.nr. 636

6
Dietrich Ernst Andreae
Self-portrait of Ernst Dietrich Andreae (c. 1680-1734) leaning on his elbow, probably 1723
canvas, oil paint 82,5 x 67 cm
lower center : Andreae p [inxit] OME
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle, inv./cat.nr. 186

7
Daniel Block
Equestrian portrait of Johann Albrecht II, Duke of Mecklenburg, 1635
canvas, oil paint 220 x 188 cm
Warsaw, Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie, inv./cat.nr. M.Ob.2079

At the other courts in Northern Germany the artistic life awakened much later. In Mecklenburg Daniel Block (1580-1660) must have been active [7]. His father hailed from Utrecht. He is thought to have painted a genealogical tree of the Mecklenburg dukes and was ̶ according to Sandrart ̶ more of a courtier than a painter. 11 Of his three painting sons we highlight Benjamin von Block (1631-1689), who already worked for the Mecklenburgers in 1647.12 Later this artist moved on to smaller courts like Halle-Magdenburg and Dresden; he even reached Vienna and Hungary and also travelled to Italy.

The art-loving Christian Ludwig von Mecklenburg-Schwerin favoured ̶ in accordance with the taste of his time ̶ the finely executed paintings of a Herman van der Mijn (1684-1741), who probably came to his court around 1735.13 He also acquired two paintings by Jan van Huijsum when he visited him in Holland in 1744 [8-9].14 With these two artist’s names we have arrived quite some way into the 18th century. Which occasion lured Johannes Withoos (1656-1687/8) [10] to the court of the Duke of Sachsen-Lauenburg in 1685, and what he painted for him, is unknown. He cannot have been there long, since he died in Amsterdam in 1688 or shortly before.15

8
Jan van Huijsum
Roses and other flowers in a terracotta pot, dated 1742
copper, oil paint 47 x 40,5 cm
lower left : Jan Van Huijsum fecit 1742
Schwerin, Staatliches Museum Schwerin, inv./cat.nr. G 439

9
Jan van Huijsum
Fruit on a marble table and a basket with flowers and a butterfly, dated 1743
copper, oil paint 47 x 40,5 cm
lower left : Jan Van Huijsum fecit / 1743
Schwerin, Staatliches Museum Schwerin, inv./cat.nr. G 418

10
Johannes Withoos
Still-life with irisses, poppies, roses, butterflies, a snake and thistles, dated 1678
canvas, oil paint 74,5 x 68 cm
lower left : J: W: Ao 1678
Christie's (Amsterdam) 1990-11-13, nr. 189


Notes

1 [Van Leeuwen 2017] He did paint a Last Judgment for the Steindammer Kirche (lost in 1945). On Anton Möller: Gerson/Van Leeuwen/Tylicki et al. 2013/2014, passim (http://gersonpoland.rkdmonographs.nl/).

2 [Gerson 1942/1983] Rohde 1938, p. 14-18, ill. [Van Leeuwen 2017] All known works by or attributed to Rose were lost or went missing in 1945 (Bartoschek/Vogtherr 2004, p. 413-415, ill and Lostart.de.).

3 [Van Leeuwen 2017] First an independent town, than quarter of Königsbergen. The town hall was damaged by fire in 1764 and 1876 and destroyed in 1944-1945.

4 [Gerson 1942/1983] ‘um seine Kunst besser zu fassen’ (Rohde 1938, p. 20).

5 [Van Leeuwen 2017] § 2.8.

6 [Gerson 1942/1983] Rohde 1938, p. 20.

7 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson states that Wietzell became a court painter in 1641, but according to Thieme/Becker (vol. 35 [1942], p. 548) he only was appointed as an apprentice and assistant of Czwiczek at the court on 22 August 1640.

8 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson 1942/1983 , p. 292-293 in the section on Austria and Silesia (not included in Gerson Digital : Germany). See also § 2.9.

9 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Walczak 2000/2001.

10 [Gerson 1942/1983] Selfportrait in Hamburg (no. 185/6) and Braunschweig (no. 636); image in Biermann 1914, no. 353.

11 [Gerson 1942/1983] Sandrart/Peltzer 1675/1925, p. 345-346.

12 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Krieger 1969-1970.

13 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Wurzbach mentions that the art dealer Pachman recommended Herman van der Mijn to Duke Christian Ludwig von Mecklenburg-Schwerin in a letter of 15 March 1735 and that he returned to the Netherlands in 1737, suggesting that Van der Mijn stayed in this court from 1735 until 1737 (Wurzbach 1906-1911, vol. 2, p. 209).

14 [Gerson 1942/1983] Schlie 1900.[Van Leeuwen 2017] Von Berswordt-Wallrabe 2000, p. 58, 60-61, ill., p. 122-123, no. 45-46; Segal et al. 2006, p. 266-270, no. F30-40, ill.

15 [Gerson 1942/1983] Houbraken 1718-1721, vol. 2, p. 188: ‘zeker voorval lokte hem aan 't Hof van den Vorst van Saxen Lauwenborg, daar hy ook gestorven is, in 't jaar 1685’; Bredius 1915-1921, vol. 3, p. 873-874. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Johannes Withoos is thought to have been back in Amsterdam in 1682. His stay in Ratzeburg must have taken place before 1682, probably on his return from Italy (Heijenga-Klomp 2005, p. 128-129). In 1990 a still-life surfaced (Christie's [Amsterdam] 1990-11-13, no. 189) that could be by his hand and that could have been very well in the taste of the Ratzeburg court.

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