Masters of Mobility

RKD STUDIES

4.6 Conclusion

Daniel Block's last employer Adolf Friedrich I died in 1658, he himself in 1660. By this time, Adolph Friedrich's son Christian had taken over, who was so fond of the Sun King, that he took on the second name Louis and lived in Paris ruling his country via correspondence. It is clear that no art patronage in Mecklenburg evolved from this construction. Perhaps in consequence, Christian Louis's long reign left a beneficial financial situation when he died in 1692. His three nephews, Friedrich Wilhelm, Carl Leopold and Christian Ludwig, the last one named after his uncle, followed him successively. Only the third, however, seems to have had a mind or the time for art. Starting his art collection in 1732, he is already outside of our field of reference.

It may be worth noting, that the example of Mecklenburg in the 16th and 17th centuries seems to offer typical patterns which should be named in conclusion:

Artworks were for a major part imported and only in times of special situations of competition was a foreign artist willing to settle in the country. This effect must have been enhanced by the fact, that there were few, if any, complimentary commissions to be obtained from the nobility or from the cities. Any artist of stature was almost completely dependent upon the ruling prince. The settling in Wismar of a number of artists around Philip Brandin may indicate that the port city on the Baltic Sea gave more chances for additional commissions than the residential cities of Schwerin and Güstrow. As a consequence, commissions were often given to workshops in the large centres of international trade, Lübeck and Hamburg, while Mecklenburg was not able to attract the artists involved sufficiently for them to move into the country.

Concerning the artists, the instances when we hear of contacts to the homeland are remarkable. A case in point is Cornelius Kromeny's trip to the Netherlands in 1596/97 which is known via the documents. Furthermore, it was probably through the Brandin workshop that the reliefs from Antwerp artist Willem van den Broecke were obtained in 1563. On the other hand, it remains an open question, as to who facilitated the commission in 1572 for the ten large animal paintings by Marten de Vos, again in Antwerp. But we do know, that Peter van Boeckel brought three paintings from the Netherlands for the duke in the fall of 1563.24 For the 17th century, the facts known and the artworks surviving are extremely rare. No large building works were undertaken apart from fortress works. And occasions for representation through art were not as obvious as before.

Looking back from the art collections accumulated in Schwerin ever since, it may even seem that the bleak situation at the beginning of the 18th century may have spurred the buying of art more than in other, more fortunate places. Locally, there was no tradition of art production to build upon. Instead, art was imported on a large scale, which promised more immediate results than to build up a production in the country


Notes

1 Hegner 1990, p. 29.

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