GEORG PHILIPP RUGENDAS I
1666 Augsburg 1742
The two Monumental Mezzotints
of the von Roemer Collection
Prince Eugene of Savoy
John Churchill Duke of Marlborough
2 sheet. Mezzotints. (1713/14.)
Inscribed: Georg Philipp Rugendas inv. et fec(it/.) Aug. V(ind).
18½ × 14¼ in (46.9 × 36.2 cm); Teuscher 55 = not in Stillfried + Nagler,
who both know only the version T. 59 , which, however, not belongs to,
T. 58 = St. 282 & N. 10, 16⅞ × 14⅝ in (42.8 × 37 cm),
the washed pen and ink drawing in the same direction
in the Witt Collection/Courtauld Institute Galleries London.
Contemporarily illustrating a top-rate brotherhood in arms, culminating in the victory of Blenheim/Höchstedt , who “ gave the Spanish War of Succession a decisive turn ”. Yet by the first Marlborough foremost that energy of Britain of whom his no less outstanding descendant, prime minister of the war Sir Winston, wrote in his Marlborough classic, he “ broke irretrievably the exorbitant power of France ”.
And together not just as then after all simultanously two of the superbly rare six leaves of Rugendas’ great
set of the princes on horseback
on galopping white horses with the marshal’s baton in the right
of , really up to date , (1713/1714),
used by Ridinger as stimulus for his own Princely Persons mounted on Horseback. Completely here not provable in literature anymore, they are nevertheless an extraordinarily attractive, quite personal temptation & seduction to achieve the peu à peu completion some day as perhaps then unique and moreover singular. But also in pictorial regard as when framed
the two riders gallop pendant-like towards each other .
And, even more, in lifetime these two noblemen stood
in closest personal connection to each other :
“ … the two generals crowned with glory found … each other again . ”
That is since 1704 in the war of Austria and its allies against France with Bavaria.
“ June 10, (1704, Eugene) … met Marlborough on the Neckar who commanded the English auxiliary forces … Two months later … the two generals defeated the united Frenchmen and Bavarians in the decisive battle near Höchstädt. The capture of Landau, the expulsion of the French from Germany, the occupation of Bavaria by the Austrians were the immediate consequences of the brilliant victory ”
(Alfred Ritter von Arneth in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, VI , pp. 409 & 411).
And so forth. Till the conclusions of peace of Utrecht & Rastatt (1713/14). And in their historic effectiveness surpassing still widely beyond these. Still 300 years later one thinks of the interplay of their personal bravery as setting standards. So when Eberhard Straub speaks on occasion of the Rheinsberg Prince Heinrich Exposition of Frederick the Great’s
“ military boldnesses
in the tradition of the Prince Eugene
and the Duke of Marlborough ”
(FAZ August 12, 2002).
“ In 1688 Europe drew swords in a quarrel which, with one uneasy interlude, was to last for a quarter of a century. Since the duel between Rome and Cartharge there had been no such world war. It involved all the civilized people; it extended to every accessible part of the globe … Indeed, there are other remarkable similarities between this period and the early twentieth century. There was the same peril that the supremacy of one race and culture would be imposed by military force upon all others. There was the impotence of Europe without British aid; the slow but sure acceptance by England of the challenge and the call; and the same tremendous, increasing development of British effort during the struggle.
The wars of William and Anne were no mere effort of national ambition or territorial gain. They were in essentials a struggle for the life and liberty not only of England, but of Protestant Europe … The triumph of the France of Louis XIV would have warped and restricted the development of the freedom we now enjoy, even more than the domination of Napoleon or of the German Kaiser ”
(Winston S. Churchill, Marlborough, His Life and Times [Chicago 2002], vol. I, p. 16).
Yet in the early twentyfirst century, another century and even another world war later, there again is a remarkable resemblence with today’s Europe – “like a giant reeling helplessly towards his fate” (Frank Lübberding, FAZ, June 20, 2011) – when Dirk Schümer diagnoses the Belgian democracy – more than a year after national elections still being without a legitimate government – as “gently evaporated” and calls for a “Europe of the democratic nations” (Europe in the Crisis – Back to the Nation, in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, June 6, 2011).
And German writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger analysis in his 2010 address of thanks on the reception of the Danish Sonning Prize awarded for outstanding contributions to European culture, which would become the core of his recent essay Brussels, the Gentle Monster, or The Disfranchisement of Europe:
“ Already from the foundation of the European Community Council of Ministers and Commision have taken care that the population has no say in their decisions. Just as if the constitutional battles of the nineteenth and twentieth century had never been they have arranged from the beginning a cabinet policy which negotiates all essentials in the back room. That this return to a pre-constitutional state of affairs could be healed by cosmetical corrections is not believed by anyone anymore. The democratic deficit conjured up widely therefore is nothing but a stylish expression for the political expropriation of the citizens.
A comparison (of the Treaty of Lisbon, a surrogate constitution) with the text of the American constitution shows that not only the language is played old Harry with. Also the sheer size of the document is suggestive. It is more than 180 pages strong …
Hannah Arendt has said the necessary on this fortyfive years ago. In Copenhagen she then spoke of the “pressure of a looming change of all forms of government which develop into bureaucracies, that is a rule neither of laws nor of humans, but of anonymous offices or computers whose entierly depersonalized supremacy may be more threatening for freedom and for that minimum of civility, without which social live cannot be imagined, than the most outrageous arbitrariness of tyrannies in the past’.
(The managers of the Union) … have … contrived a strategy, which shall immunize them against any criticism. He who contradicts their plans is made out as anti-European. From far this reminds of the rhetoric of senator Joseph McCarthy and the CPSU. What they did not like they used to slander, the one as ‘un-American activities’, the other as ‘anti-Soviet activities’ ”
(quoted from the slightly abridged documentation of the address in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Feb. 3, 2010).
Incidentally the very first recipient of the Sonning Prize was Sir Winston Churchill in 1950.
It might be left to anyone himself to decide if here we are not witnessing a late triumph of Louis XIV, the triumph of a renewed supremacy warping and restricting freedom and democracy, imposed on a still impotent Europe this time not by military force, but through a bureaucracy deliberately dominating each and every aspect of our life.
A domination from which Britain, frequently chastised for her Anglo-Saxon common sense and reluctance to fall in, to pass her rights, the rights and freedom of her people, to this post-democratic (Enzensberger) oligarchy euphemistically called a “Union”, and despite being engaged recently in a neo-colonial war at the side of France, stays apart to some degree so far.
And one might wonder if that “exorbitant power” was indeed that irretrievably broken as Churchill stated earlier in characterization of Marlborough:
“ Until the advent of Napoleon no commander wielded such widespread power in Europe … He was the head of the most glorious Administration in … the history (of England) when he led Europe, saved the Austrian Empire, and broke irretrievably the exorbitant power of France … ”
A sentiment which by no means should make forget the pivotal rôle of his European counterpart, Prince Eugene with whom he shared “a brotherhood in arms … unmatched between captains of equal fame” (op. cit, p. 17).
Both of their so adequate portraits by hands of the great Rugendas as a contemporary here then in very fine, highly nuanced impressions of rich chiaroscuro and likewise adequate preservation except for trimmed close to the platemark, in places on this itself and on the right on 3.5 cm on the edge of the subject. The Eugene sheet additionally slightly rubbed, two tiny and quite small scrapings resp. on the right in the margin, only minimally recognizable vertical fold from bottom till below the horse’s belly. – Mounted by old on laid paper whose margins have been laminated on the front frame-like with grey-bluish paper. The images theirselves braid with black surrounding line.
And ultimately qualified by provenance of the portrait collection of father & son von Römer originating in the early 19th century which in 1871 devolved upon today’s Museum of Fine Arts Leipsic and was sold by this in 1924 obviously entirely (not only the duplicates as Lugt notes; see auction sale Boerner). Recto lower right its collection stamp “(Municipal Museum at Leipsic)” (Lugt 1669e), on the back the removal stamp “(Disposed by Museum of Fine Arts Leipsic)” (L. 1669f).
Teuscher states per no. 56 “c. 8 ll.” though she can describe six only (53-58). For the one she carries as 59 as “additional leaf” belongs neither stylistically nor in regard of size and caption to the set, would even be a repetition of the set-conforming portrait of Eugene here. Insofar she follows Stillfried’s error who incorporated it per 281 into the set not knowing it as Nagler neither. Also her quotation of Boerner there is unfounded as equally referring to 55 here and regarding St. 281 (T. 59/Nagler 8) as reproduction. See in this connection the extensive separate description, please.
In fact, too, the original set should be complete with the six leaves T. 53-58 as it – obviously as the one and only copy! – figured in the aforesaid Boerner sale “Collection of Engravings by Old Masters of the XVth-XVIIIth Century” as lot 1670 as follows :
“ The beautiful , large equestrian portraits
in marvelous , even , fresh impressions …
All mounted by old on blue cardboard . ”
Ergo the in the meantime dissolved copy von Roemer from the Leipsic Museum to which both the present sheets, T. 55 & 58, belonged. With here
at present no complete copy being known to literature .
For its proof by Teuscher is now cut into pieces in the light of the above appendix here. And both the further copies in Coburg & Dresden called in there miss that of the Duke of Marlborough (T. 58), temporary Prince of Mindelheim.
Five each only Nagler described as individual plates and Count Stillfried possessed resp. Both note instead of the true Eugene its reproduction only (N. 8). Thus it should be one and the same copy which Nagler as antiquarian left to his customer. In Augsburg by the way with T. 54 one single leaf of the set only!
That this should be appended by Nagler 7 “Charles XII mounted on horseback with the sword in his hand as he drives the enemies ahead, one of the chief works of the master” as remained unknown to Teuscher seems to be unlikely by stylistic regards though, analogous to T. 53-58 (but not to T. 59!), also described by Nagler as “large folio”. For none of the six confirmed leaves of the set shows a general in contact with the enemy as mentioned for Charles XII as their contemporary. The latter then by the way as the one and only of these large prince leaves among the about 27,600 lots of parts I-XXVIII of Weigel’s Art Stock Catalogue (1838/57). Not one concerning T. 53-58! Their, and thereby of the one here, too,
rarity thus simply superb !
And this not only because of special circumstances on the market but generally. Already in 1675 the expert von Sandrart numbered “clean prints” of the velvety mezzotint manner at only c. “50 or 60” (!). “Soon after (the picture) grinds off for it not goes deeply into the copper.” Correspondingly Thienemann in 1856 by the example of Ridinger :
“ The mezzotints are almost not to be acquired on the market anymore …
and the by far largest part (of them) …
(I have) only found (in the printroom) at Dresden. ”
Not even there then the elder’s Georg Philipp large set of the “Princes on Horseback” as a whole, to which later the equal-named son let follow a yet with 13⅜ × 8⅝ in (34 × 22 cm) markedly smaller one of his own of which Teuscher knows five leaves (429-433) with which T. 59 also not harmonizes. For the time of origin of the large ones by the father T. 53 sees as terminus post quem 1713 as only in that year his Frederick William (I) succeeded as king of Prussia. Since on the other hand Marlborough still figures as Princeps Mindelheimensis what became obsolete in 1714 the origin may be seen accordingly narrow.
While Nagler (1845) does not regard Rugendas as a “great Master in mezzotint” whose “compositions (were) designed full of life and always with genius though” – their first states should carry his “inv. et fec.” as here (later addresses not known here in this connection) or the address of Jeremias Wolff – Gode Krämer (1998) stresses the
“ technique of mezzotint masterly commanded by him ”
and qualifies him as “a that excellent etcher and mezzotint artist” who “in regard of Augsburg early made the mezzotint his own and introduced a new variant with the combination of the techniques of mezzotint and etching by the outline etching” (in Björn R. Kommer, ed., Rugendas / Eine Künstlerfamilie in Wandel und Tradition / Catalogue to the exhibition 1998, pp. 8 f.).
Offer no. 14,365 / price on application
“ Received the (original Ridinger printing) plate yesterday. Much Thanks from a satisfied customer. You are a True Gentleman … All the Best! L… F. ”
(Mr. L. A. F., November 5, 2003)