Gerson Digital : Germany I


6.2 Augsburg

It is more likely to find Dutch artists or German artists that were affected by Dutch art in the free imperial cities, of which we already visited Frankfurt and Nuremberg. Even in Augsburg some of this can be perceived, although often in combination with Flemish influences, while the Italian trend prevailed. Joachim von Sandrart I wrote about a further completely unknown Johann Sigismund Müller († 1694), who became a pupil of his in Amsterdam at the age of 17 and stayed with him for five years.1 The ‘imperial court engraver’ Mathäus Küsel (1629-1681) never was, as far as we know, in Holland, but visited Venice in 1656 instead. However, his drawings (for example a portrait of 1654 in Saint-Petersburg [=Moscow, ed.] [1])2 and reproductive prints (after Rembrandt’s Death of the Virgin [2] and Hundred Guilder Print [3]) prove, that he did not avoid Dutch models. If the Barbershop in Nuremberg (indistinctly signed and dated 1641) [4] is attributed to him correctly, he must have studied Dutch paintings ̶ for instance by Adriaen van de Venne, Sybrandt van Beest or Dirck Hals ̶ as thoroughly as the Northern German Wolfgang Heimbach, whose works occasionally show a similar approach.3

Mathäus Küsel
Portrait of an unknown man, dated 1654
paper, black chalk ? x ? mm
upper right :
Moscow, Pushkin Museum

Melchior Küsel (I) after Rembrandt
Christ preaching, c. 1679
paper, etching 94 x 139 mm
Los Angeles/Malibu, The J. Paul Getty Museum

Melchior Küsel (I) after Rembrandt
The death of the patriarch Jacob, c. 1679
paper, etching 94 x 141 mm
Los Angeles/Malibu, The J. Paul Getty Museum

attributed to Mathäus Küsel
The barber's room, dated 164[.]
panel (oak), oil paint 23 x 32,5 cm
lower right : Mathyas / Kvcel / inue et / pin / 164[.]
Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, inv./ Gm1247

Johann Ulrich Mayr
Self-portrait with antique statue, dated 1650
canvas, oil paint 107 x 88,5 cm
in verso : Jo... Mair fecit / Wahr ich 20 Jahr alt / 1650
Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, inv./ Gm 757

Except for Sandrart, it was primarily Johann Ulrich Mayr and Christopher Paudiss who spread the style of Rembrandt in Southern Germany. Johann Ulrich Mayr (1630-1704) not only worked for patrician patrons in Augsburg, but also for the courts in Vienna, Munich, Durlach and Heidelberg. As a youngster he was in the Netherlands, became a pupil of Rembrandt in Amsterdam and of Jacob Jordaens in Antwerp, and then travelled on to England and Italy.4 His Self-portrait at the age of 20 [5] shows him as a Rembrandt pupil who mastered the chiaroscuro and the soft modelling of his teacher.

He maintained the strong Dutch realism until his late years, also in biblical representations he created for the churches in his hometown [6]. However, he is most ‘Dutch’ in his portraits [7], even in the works from the 1670s. In the portraits of rulers he becomes more pompous: the Portrait of Maximilian Philipp of Bavaria (1638-1705) (former collection of the King of Saxony),5 that originated c. 1670, already shows a certain French elegance, but is still painted in broad brushstrokes.6 A portrait of Susanna Mayr (c. 1600-1674) [8], mother of Johann Ulrich’s, was formerly attributed to Michael Sweerts. This is quite understandable, since it is completely painted in this Dutch style (art dealer Van Diemen).7

Johann Ulrich Mayr
Self-portrait of Johann Ulrich Mayr (1630-1704), dated 1663
canvas, oil paint 121 x 99,5 cm
lower center : J. U. Mayr / 1663
Augsburg, Deutsche Barockgalerie, inv./ 3772

Johann Ulrich Mayr
The resurrection of Christ, dated 1673
canvas, oil paint ? x ? cm
lower left : Mair fe 1673
Augsburg, Heilig Kreuz Kirche (Augsburg)

Johann Ulrich Mayr
Portrait of Susanna Mayr (1600-1674), the artist's mother, c. 1660
canvas, oil paint 88 x 72 cm
Augsburg, Städtische Kunstsammlungen Augsburg, inv./ 8598

In the works of the battle painter Georg Philipp Rugendas I (1666-1742)8 one can even observe an unusual development from an Italian-French image type to a Dutch one. His early battle scenes are free inventions that are stylistically connected to Michelangelo Cerquozzi and Jacques Courtois. Around 1700 his compositions became topographical and illustrative. In this realistic strive there were plenty examples to be found in Dutch art: for the topographical aspect one could turn to Adam Frans van der Meulen; a realistically observed cavalry battle with gunsmoke, flying flags and shining horses can be found in the works of Benjamin Gerritz. Cuyp and Philips and Pieter Wouwerman [9-11].9 Georg Philipp Rugendas II (1701-1774), who belongs to the 18th century, also painted some animal paintings in the style of Johann Heinrich Roos, but was mainly active as a printmaker under Dutch influence.

Georg Philipp Rugendas (I)
Italian horse market, c. 1695
canvas, oil paint 97 x 78 cm
Pommersfelden, Schloss Weissenstein der Grafen von Schönborn

Georg Philipp Rugendas (I)
Horse market at a ruin of a Roman aqueduct, c. 1710
canvas, oil paint 127 x 188, 5 cm
lower left : P. Rugendas fecit
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, inv./ 1535

Georg Philipp Rugendas (I)
The dressage of horses in a southern city, dated 1695
canvas, oil paint 97 x 133 cm
Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, inv./ 4815

The works of the Augsburg history and genre painters Johann Heinrich Schönfeld (1609-1684)10 and Johann Heiss (1640-1704) only indirectly reveal some Dutch influence. In Schönfeld’s paintings (for example in Pommersfelden [12]) we see some figures that are reminiscent of Pieter van Laer, whose idiom he might have absorbed during his stay in Italy [13]. However, in Rome he aligned with the great history and decorative artist Pietro da Cortona, rather than with the minor masters from the Low Countries. Apart from that, some mannerist style elements (Cornelis van Haarlem, Jacques Callot) still can be seen in his work. The impact of Rembrandt most likely can be traced in his prints, especially in the representation of heads of old men [14]. The works of Johann Heiss,11 the ‘German Sébastien Bourdon’, have many characteristics that are connected with Gerard de Lairesse and Bertholet Flémalle, but we cannot regard this resemblance as Dutch influence [15-17].12

Johann Heinrich Schönfeld
Company making music in an interior
canvas, oil paint 115 x 93 cm
Pommersfelden, Schloss Weissenstein der Grafen von Schönborn, inv./ 526

Johann Heinrich Schönfeld
Draughtsmen at a Roman ruin, c. 1634-1635
canvas, oil paint 100 x 75 cm
Augsburg, Städtische Kunstsammlungen Augsburg, inv./ L 822

Johann Heinrich Schönfeld
Head of an old man, 1626
paper, etching 68 x 55 mm
lower right : IHS [in monogram]
Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum

Johann Heiss
Minerva as goddess of the arts
canvas, oil paint 112 x 115 cm
Bamberg, Historisches Museum (Bamberg), inv./ 271

Johann Heiss
Christ in the house of Martha and Mary
canvas, oil paint 90,4 x 67,5 cm
Oberschleissheim, Staatsgalerie im neuen Schloss Schleissheim

Johann Heiss
The annunciation to the Virgin
canvas, oil paint 90 x 67 cm
Augsburg, Städtische Kunstsammlungen Augsburg, inv./ L 736

The same can be said about Johann Spillenberger (c. 1628-1679) [18], an artist who came from Hungary and - after a trip to Italy - spent some ten years in Augsburg (c. 1660-1670).13 His genre paintings and biblical scenes belong to the Flemish-French school [19-20].

Johann Spillenberger
Bathsheba bathing, dated 1667
canvas, oil paint 104 x 155 cm
lower right : ISpilberg fc. 1667
Cognac (France), Musée d'Art et d'Histoire Cognac

Johann Spillenberger
Lucretia's suicide by stabbing herself
canvas, oil paint 87 x 71 cm
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin), inv./ I.475

Johann Spillenberger
The finding of Moses, dated 1670
canvas, oil paint 99 x 133 cm
left center : ISpiellenberger Hung. et Imp. Nob: fec. Ao 1670
Pommersfelden, Schloss Weissenstein der Grafen von Schönborn, inv./ 547

In the case of Abraham Heintz, on the other hand, one can speak of a Rembrandt-like training [21].14 Possibly he was a son of Joseph Heintz II, who worked around the same time.

Abraham Heintz
The return of the Prodigal Son, dated 1650
paper, red chalk 23,6 x 19,9 cm
bottom, in the middle : Abraham Heintz von Augsburg fecit / in Amsterdam 1650
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv./ INV 18692, recto


1 [Gerson 1942/1983] Sandrart/Peltzer 1675/1925, p. 207-208. [Van Leeuwen 2017] On this artist: A painting representing St. Benedict in Lambach is still in situ (Klemm 1986, p. 56, note 260).

2 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Sidorow 1929-1930, p. 226, ill. on p. 223.

3 [Gerson 1942/1983] Formerly in auction Cologne 1930-05-20, no. 104, ill. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Tacke 1995, p. 153-154, no. 71, ill. On Heimbach: § 2.2.

4 [Van Leeuwen 2017] On Mayr: Sumowski 1983-1994, vol. 10, p. 2175-2217; Zeeb 2011. In 2016 many works by Mayr have been entered in RKDexplore for the Gerson project by Lianne Mostert, bachelor trainee Leiden University.

5 [Van Leeuwen 2017] The traditional attribution to Mayr has been refuted and the painting is now considered to have been painted in the workshop of Sebastiano Bombello. RKDimages 272716.

6 [Gerson 1942/1983] The ‘Rembrandt’ drawing Hofstede de Groot no. 1357 (Rotterdam) is attributed to Mayr by Otto Benesch (Benesch 1927-1928, p. 25-26, fig. 30). [Van Leeuwen 2017] Considered a copy after Mayr by Sumowki (Sumowski 1979-1991, vol. 3, p. 4492.RKDimages 285141.

7 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Gerson confusingly calls the portrait a self-portrait of Susanna Mayr, who was a print maker, miniaturist and paper-cut artist of her own. There are three versions known of the portrait of the mother: one in Augsburg (illustrated here), one after 1924 with Van Diemen Gallery, Berlin (88 x 72 cm), to which Gerson refers (Buchner 1926) and one formerly in the collection of the Staatliche Museen Berlin (85 x 70 cm) (Klessmann 1966, p. 61, no. 59, fig. 60).

8 [Van Leeuwen 2017] On Georg Philipp Rugendas: Held 1996. On the Rugendas family: Teuscher 1998 and Kommer et al. 1998.

9 [Van Leeuwen 2017] To many paintings on the artmarket are labelled as Rugendas. A painting sold as Rugendas in 2013 is reattributed to Abraham van der Hoef (RKDimages 279914).

10 [Van Leeuwen 2017] On Schönfeld: Zeller et al. 2009; Trepesch et al. 2010.

11 [Van Leeuwen 2017] On Heiss: Königfeld 2001 and Blübaum et al. 2002.

12 [Gerson 1942/1983] Examples: Augsburg 2272 and 2273 and some paintings in Bamberg. Lairesse’s influence becomes clear in Kraus/De Lairesse [after 1711]. [Van Leeuwen 2017] Illustrated here are the Bamberg paintings Gerson refers to; two of them are not in Bamberg anymore. Other examples, a.o. from the art market, in RKDimages. The examples in Augsburg Gerson mentions are works by Rugendas.

13 [Van Leeuwen 2017] Actually, his stay in Augsburg was a bit shorter (see RKDartists&). He died from the plague on his way from Vienna to Augsburg, in Engelhartszell near Passau. On Johann von Spillenberger: Baljöhr 2003. The painting in Berlin has been listed as Eglon van der Neer in the 1830s, as school of Gerard de Lairesse in 1841 and from 1886 to 1931 as follower of Caspar Netscher (Baljöhr 2003, p. 249, no. M42, fig. 54).

14 [Gerson 1942/1983] Drawing of the Prodigal Son, inscribed ‘Abraham Heintz von Augsburg fecit In Amsterdam’. Rather weak imitation of Rembrandt (about the same level as Rottermondt).

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