Masters of Mobility


10.1 Netherlandish Engravers and German Publishers

In the city of Augsburg, there had been a long established connection between Netherlandish engravers and German publishing houses.1 Domenicus Custos (1559/60-1615), a native of Antwerp, had settled there after his marriage into the Kilian clan, a family that would soon become a dynasty of artists and publishers.2 But it was not just the movement of people, and – as in the example cited above – the spreading of ideas through Dutch and Flemish artists coming to the imperial city. It was the actual artworks themselves that, by means of printmaking, travelled across the continent or even further. Horst Gerson has summarised this neatly in his book Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung, saying ‘Engravings and drawings are, by their very nature, extremely versatile and were disseminated around the world in their thousands’.3

A point in case is the series of eight etchings depicting Alpine landscapes,4 made after drawings by Roelant Roghman (1627-1691), the Dutch Golden Age painter from Amsterdam, famous for his drawings of a great number of Dutch castles.5 The Tyrolean landscapes were published, first, by Melchior Küsel I (1626-1681), and later by Jeremias Wolff (1663-1724) and his descendants over the course of almost two centuries [1-3].6

Wolff was one of the most important publishers in Augsburg in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and it is interesting to know that he did not really specialise in landscape prints. His publishing activities concentrated on science, religion, and illustrated works as well as architecture, ornamental engravings and emblem books.7 Nevertheless, Wolff’s publishing venture can be linked with a number of series of prints after more or less well-known Dutch and Flemish artists, a fact which confirms that the Augsburg elite was familiar with – and evidently treasured – the quality of Dutch landscape paintings. Not only did Wolff publish Johann Georg Bäck’s etched copies of the six upright landscapes by Willem van Bemmel (1630-1708),8 he also commissioned Johann Christoph Hafner’s etchings after Adam Frans van der Meulen (1632-1690).9 These are just a couple of examples that show how seemingly distinct artistic roads did ultimately converge in Augsburg.

What the above-mentioned series all have in common, is, apart from the place of publication, that they do not depict a precise location. The so-called Tyrolean landscapes, for example, are simply mountain landscapes. In fact, they are common types of landscape, just like the sylvan idylls by Van Bemmel or the etchings showing pastoral landscapes by Augsburg artist Jonas Umbach (c. 1624-1693). It is the artworks’ titles and inscriptions that made both the Netherlandish artists’ and their Augsburg imitators’ names.

In order to find out more about those printed landscape series and their motivic development, we need to leave the imperial city and travel to Basel, and from there to Antwerp, and then back to Augsburg, where potential buyers could be certain they were purchasing a local product, made according to designs that belonged to foreign artists. In that sense, the prints seem to carry a promise to take the viewer on a journey and to places unknown, or, in the case of Augsburg illustrator, engraver and publisher Johann Ulrich Kraus's (1655-1719) Views of Nuremberg – that, on first impression, seem to make no reference to Netherlandish prints – focus on specific locales.

Kraus’s Views of Nuremberg originated in the series of prints known as the Small Landscapes which were first published by Hieronymus Cock (1518-1570) in Antwerp in 1539. It is those landscapes and prints in which the rustic view was first made available to the general art-buying public. Walter S. Gibson explores the origins of the rustic landscape in 16th-century Flanders and its later reformation by Dutch artists in his 2000 monograph Pleasant Places. The Rustic Landscape from Bruegel to Ruisdael,10 and more recently, Alexandra Onuf discussed the dissemination of the famous Small Landscapes series through Visscher’s copies in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.11

This article will provide information and analysis that will expand on those studies, concentrating on aspects that are significant to the history of the reception and transmission of certain works, and throwing light on the status of prints in the process of canon formation in Germany. It will be interesting to see how the Small Landscapes were almost a prototype or blueprint for so many later printed landscape series, especially those that emphasise a particular place.

Roelant Roghman published by Melchior Küsel (I)
Mountainous landscape with a wayside cross, between 1647-1692
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./ RP-P-2009-217

Roelant Roghman published by Jeremias Wolff
Mountainous landscape with a wayside cross, between 1673-1724
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./ RP-P-OB-4283

Roelant Roghman published by Johann Michael Probst
Mountainous landscape with a wayside cross, between 1737-1809
Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet, inv./ RP-P-1924-451


1 I would like to express my thanks to Thomas Schmiedl for his assistance with the translation of this article into English. For an overview on book and print publishing in Augsburg: Krull et al. 1980, Künast 1995, Künast 1997, François 1995, Gier/Janota et al. 1997, and Paas et al. 2001. For the early German art trade and art transfer: Wagner 2014.

2 Saur 1992- , vol. 23 (1999), p. 209-210. On the Kilian family: Paas et al. 2001, Michels 1987 and Michels 2001.

3 Gerson 1942/1983, p. 4: ‘Leichter als Bilder verhandeln sich Stiche und Zeichnungen. Sie sind zu Tausenden und Abertausenden in alle Welt gegangen’.

4 Hollstein et al. 1949-2010, vol. 20 (1978), p. 78-81, nos. 25-32.

5 See Van der Wijck/Kloek/Niemeyer 1989-1990.

6 The publishers were Melchior Küsell, Jeremias Wolff and Johann Michael Probst II (†1809).

7 On Wolff and his successors: Schwarz 1997.

8 Hollstein et al. 1949-2010, vol. 1 (1949), p. 243-247, nos. 1-6.

9 Hafner’s etchings, made in reverse, are almost equal in size to the forest views made by Adriaen Fransz. Boudewijns after Van der Meulen. Le Blanc/Brunet 1856-1889, vol. 1, p. 30-33 (Bauduins/Boudewijns, incomplete).

10 Gibson 2000. For interpretations of early Dutch landscape prints and Visscher’s Plaisante Plaetsen: Leeflang 1995.

11 Alexandra Onuf’s (Onuf 2018) comprehensive analysis of the significance of the Small Landscapes in early modern print culture appeared while the present article was being reviewed for publication. References for her earlier studies (Onuf 2008; Onuf 2011; Onuf 2014) are included in the bibliography. Back in January 2018, in a brief email exchange, Onuf kindly confirmed that her research was not related to the reception of the Small Landscapes in the German speaking countries.

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