Our examination of the various German translations of Dutch art literature has shown that they were produced in very different contexts. Whereas the initiative for the first translations of Goeree’s books seems to have been taken by the translator Philipp von Zesen, the decision to translate Beurs’ text likely came from the publishers of the original edition, the brothers Janssonius van Waesberge. The translations of De Lairesse’s treatises should be connected to the art academies in Berlin and Nuremberg, and undoubtedly contributed directly to the instruction of young artists, alongside other translations of seminal art literature.
The texts by Goeree, Beurs and De Lairesse were readily available to the German public, remarkably soon after their respective original publications. Despite their differences, these books – with the exception of the Groot Schilderboek, which also has a strong theoretical component – are principally practical in nature. They offered a valuable reading to the practitioners of art, complementing the more theoretical French and Italian texts that were translated into German during this period.
The translations played a significant role in the diffusion of artistic knowledge from the Netherlands to the German states and should be valued as an additional way of artistic exchange, besides the movement of people and artworks. In addition, the German editions of Goeree, Beurs and De Lairesse each contributed to the development of the German language of art: the words that were used to talk and teach art.