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Marketing Maximilian:
The Visual Ideology of a Holy Roman Emperor
Larry Silver

Book Description | Endorsements | Table of Contents

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Published by Princeton University Press and copyrighted, © 2008, by Princeton University Press. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher, except for reading and browsing via the World Wide Web. Users are not permitted to mount this file on any network servers. Follow links for Class Use and other Permissions. For more information, send e-mail to

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Introduction: Maximilian’s Artworlds

Willibald Pirckheimer, learned Nuremberg patrician and close friend of Albrecht Dürer, relates the tale of his five-hour crossing of Lake Constance to Lindau with Maximilian (27–29 July 1499).1 Shortly after a crushing defeat at the hands of “rebellious” Swiss troops at Dorneck during the Swiss Revolt for independence, the emperor determined to dictate the events of his reign (res gestae) in Latin to a secretary. He asked for Pirckheimer’s criticisms of his “soldier’s Latin” (ista militaris latinistas dicteo), an obvious allusion to Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, first published more than a quarter of a century earlier (1469, Rome; 1473 Esslingen). His ambitions were to narrate for historians of posterity.

This Latin autobiography project was short-lived, but from this brief dictation came the germ of all of Maximilian’s literary projects as well as his ongoing relation to the graphic arts that would eventually illustrate them; moreover, from such beginnings stemmed Maximilian’s continual use of scholarly advisers, such as Pirckheimer, to supervise and edit his texts.

Already as early as 1492, the humanist Heinrich Bebel pressed Maximilian to begin a Latin autobiography. In it he charts his life as an oscillation between poles: the misfortune of his natal horoscope, counterbalanced by divine providence (Ergo notandum in posterum est semper deus misericors et e converso spiritus malus constellacionis sue).2 This dialectic lies at the heart of the later plot structure of Teuerdank, Maximilian’s fictionalized, autobiographical, verse romance, and it fi nds echos in Weisskunig, especially chapter 22, “How the Young White King Learned the Art of Stargazing [Sternsehens]”:“After this the young White King mastered political knowledge. . . . He thought it would be useful to recognize the stars and their influence; otherwise he would not completely understand the nature of men.”3

Joseph Grünpeck, scribe for both the Constance Latin dictation and eventual author of the Latin autobiography, was a cleric and noted Latinist from Ingolstadt, also noted for his astrological prognostications.4 In 1497, he had presented Maximilian with a Latin drama, featuring a morality play in which the monarch himself was asked to choose, like Hercules, between Virtus and Fallacicaptrix, virtue and base pleasure. In August 1498, Grünpeck was crowned a poet laureate by Maximilian.Taken on as a “confidential” or private secretary for the emperor during 1501, Grünpeck was stricken with the effects of syphilis and had to curtail his offices.5 He later added an update to the Latin autobiography, Commentaria divi Maximiliani, covering the years 1501 through 1505 and thus spanning Maximilian’s reign from his Burgundian marriage to the successful conclusion of the Bavarian-Palatine War of Succession. But by this time, Maximilian had already abandoned the use of Latin for his autobiography in favor of the German vernacular.The early outlines of his German allegorical autobiography, consisting of two further books in German, Teuerdank and Weisskunig, can be documented to this period.6 Nonetheless, a final redaction in Latin, the Historia Friderici et Maximiliani, was compiled by Grünpeck and presented to Maximilian with drawn illustrations in Februrary 1516.

These drawings were produced by a young Albrecht Altdorfer, who like Grünpeck lived in Regensburg.7 Chronologically, the Historia drawings end with the emperor’s siege of Kufstein (October 1504), although chapter 36, the final segment of the Latin text, speaks of Maximilian’s forty-ninth year, that is, 1508.The emphasis of these drawings lies more on the interests and activities of the emperor and his father than on their full biographies; virtue and wisdom are the dominant qualities. For Maximilian especially, youthful training, particularly in the martial arts (chapters 5–6) as well as adult accomplishments (including tournaments, masquerades, hunts, and language abilities) within his “open” administration, fill out the illustrations.These feats anticipate the central third of the later Weisskunig text in German, discussing Maximilian’s wide-ranging training, as well as the side towers, also devised by Altdorfer, added to the Arch of Honor, a set of woodcuts that depict the emperor’s personal qualities.At one point in his examination of the Historia drawings, however, even Maximilian clearly found their panegyric excessive. Alongside one drawing (no. 36) he added the remark “better [to have] posthumous praises” (lyber laudis post mortem). Such supervision by Maximilian himself of both text and image is entirely characteristic of his involvement with other artistic projects. He personally lined through two Historia drawings (nos. 12 and 46), both of which adopt the fascination in Grünpeck’s text for celestial portents of the death or advent of great kings—here Frederick III (fo. 30r) and Maximilian (fo. 85r), respectively—because of his own later vision, less favorable to such astrological determinism.8 On two drawings of battle scenes Maximilian notes that a more comprehensive treatment in text and illustrations would appear later and more fully in “weysk,” that is, Weisskunig.9 This notation shows that he was already clearly planning a fuller series of illustrated dictated texts to record his lifetime accomplishments, particularly those most worthy of imperial leadership—victories on the battlefi eld.

The layout of the Historia drawings suggests a one-to-one correspondence between chapters of text and their illustrations, including, prior to the section on Maximilian, a traditional dedication page illustration (no. 15, fo. 36r; fig. 1), in which the enthroned young grandson and heir, Archduke Charles, to whom the book is dedicated, receives it from the kneeling author, while a proud Maximilian stands beside and looks on.10 In addition to the correspondence of text and illustrations, as in the censored chapters on astrology, Benesch and Auer argue for the supervision and coordination of details by Grünpeck himself.11 Every indication, including the revisions demanded by Maximilian, suggests the real possibility of realizing Grünpeck’s ambition of publishing this Latin text with woodcut illustrations made after the sketchy drawing designs. The author even produced an expanded, second edition, which he off ered after Maximilian’s death to his successor in Austria, his grandson, Ferdinand.12

A suggestion of Maximilian’s overall activity with his secretaries is provided within the Historia drawings (no. 42, fo. 79r; fig. 2), where the king, seated at supper before a brocaded cloth of honor with two active, speaking advisers by his side, nonetheless also retains two scribes to record his dictations. In addition, a court fool is depicted entertaining in front of the table, while an extra (military?) court fi gure stands behind the secretaries at the right edge of the drawing.The accompanying chapter (no. 44) speaks de eius irremissibilibus laboribus, and it amplifi es a previous chapter (no. 40), concerning the intelligence and working methods of Maximilian and his court, often exercised during hunts or at mealtimes (this is what is meant by the term “open” administration, utilized above).13 Marginal notations (Hoc etiam pingere), already contained in the original fragment of Latin dictation, indicate an original intention by Maximilian himself to produce an illustrated text. His dictated text of Weisskunig makes this clear: “And thus to make at the outset an explanation of my book I have added painted figures to the text with which the reader with mouth and eye may understand the bases of this painting of my book, which ground I have established, and in the same fashion have written and depicted chronicles, as I have seen such out of other chronicles of my predecessors.”14 Thus,as Grünpeck’s uncompleted Historia project already indicates, the pattern of Maximilian’s literary and visual production of books was already embryonically defi ned at the very turn of the sixteenth century, and his own ambitions to provide the most modern publishers and graphic artists of print and woodcut found willing collaborators in the roles of secretaries, literary advisers, and artists.

While Grünpeck during his chronic illness was out of sight and mind of Maximilian, the emperor’s literary plans turned around 1505 to his German-language autobiography, to be given the romance-like title, Weisskunig. For this project the center of supervision shifted from Regensburg to Augsburg, and from Grünpeck to Maximilian’s most trusted adviser, Dr. Konrad Peutinger.15 Its title derives from the identification of the hero with his pure, white armor, which contrasts with the identifying arms worn by other kings, dressed in blue (France), green (Hungary), red and white (England), or distinguished by means of heraldic attributes (flints for Burgundy, fi sh for Venice).16This tradition derives from courtly romances featuring knights in armor, such as Ulrich von Liechtenstein’s Frauendienst, whose poet-narrator is the “green knight.” Also foundational, the fifteenth-century Burgundian tradition, which Maximilian knew through his marriage (1477) to Mary of Burgundy, provided both fi ctional romances (Olivier de la Marche, Le chevalier déliberé, 1483; translated into Spanish for Charles V in 1522) and chronologies of splendid reigns (by such historians as Enguerrand de Monstrelet, George Chastellain, and Philippe de Commynes), as powerful models.17

The Weisskunig text was organized along the same lines as the Historia, in three parts: the history (here just the marriage) of Maximilian’s parents; the birth and training of the young Maximilian; and fi nally, the chronicle of his military campaigns (1477–1513) against his fellow “kings.” As Misch has outlined his ambitions, Maximilian “stylized” the events of his own life in order to provide a melodramatic romance as an apologia for his necessary, yet involuntary, wars as responses to the aggressions of his grasping or envious neighbors.At the same time, those victorious battles, as well as his own education and training, were conceived by Maximilian in terms of an ideal model, suitable for use as a “Mirror of Princes” for emulation by his successors.18

The outlines of the Weisskunig and Teuerdank texts were not dictated directly to Peutinger, but rather were given to a principal private secretary, Marx Treitzsaurwein (d. 1527), a man recorded in documents by 1501 and related to a family of armorers in Mühlau, near Innsbruck (where Maximilian’s armor as well as the bronze statues for his tomb were cast; see chapter 2).The earliest indications of such planned texts appears in a memorandum book, datable to the period 1505–8, where Teuerdank is mentioned (fo. 169r), not yet split off in concept from Weisskunig.19 The earliest redaction by Treitzsaurwein of Weisskunig recounts the youth of Maximilian; it also includes corrections by the emperor.20 In essence, as secretary,Treitzsaurwein fulfilled the role of herald for his master’s deeds, just as a fictional herald, Ehrenhold, the constant companion and witness for Teuerdank, holds the sole duty to sing the praises of his fictional lord. No clear distinction can be made between the emperor’s own words and those of his “ghost writer.”Treitzsaurwein was later authorized in 1526 by Ferdinand, Maximilian’s successor, to publish an edition of Weisskunig, but the secretary’s death the next year interrupted that project permanently.Various drafts survive, some with accompanying woodcut illustrations, such as the proof set (ms. F) submitted to Maximilian for captions around 1512, followed by another manuscript (ms. A; completed 1514) to be inspected for fi nal revisions.21 In addition, a “Question Book” (ms. H, 1515), including eighty-two woodcuts and thirty-four drawings, as well as a “Control Book” served to clarify uncertainties concerning the selection and order of text and illustrations of details in mss.A and E prior to the fi nal, defi nitive publication of Weisskunig.22

Peutinger coordinated all 251 illustrations for Weisskunig in Augsburg. He divided their artistic production almost equally between two local artists: Hans Burgkmair (118 images) and Leonhard Beck (127); Hans Springinklee and Hans Schäufelein were responsible for the other six illustrations.23 The nature of his concerns went beyond the recruitment and supervision of Augsburg artists and extended to technical issues, chiefly the cutting of woodblocks after the artists’ designs by Formschneider.24 Peutinger had already enlisted Burgkmair to produce a multicolor (including overlay of gold or silver) equestrian portrait woodcut for Maximilian in 1508 for the occasion of his coronation as emperor-elect at Trent (chapter 3).25 He also utilized Burgkmair to design figures of ninety-two ancestors for Maximilian’s intended publication of his Genealogy (chapter 2), for which he also enlisted a wood sculptor (Schreiner) and two block carvers (Formschneider).26 Among the Formschneider in Augsburg, one Netherlandish virtuoso craftsman, Jost de Negker, personally wrote to the emperor (27 October 1512) to claim credit for supervising the other cutters and for producing a chiaroscuro portrait of Maximilian’s local Augsburg adviser and fi nancial minister, Hans Paumgartner.27 Augsburg was also the headquarters of Maximilian’s designated “printer for life,” Hans Schönsperger, who invented Fraktur, or gothic German type, for the emperor’s exclusive use.28 Peutinger’s multiple projects for Maximilian, including Weisskunig, reach a climax in his letter to the emperor of 9 June 1516, where the illustrations of Weisskunig, Teuerdank, and Freydal, as well as the pictorial suite, Triumphal Procession, are all described as “designed, cut, and printed” (gerissen, geschniten und ausgemacht worden), while others are still moving along in the process, with fi ve Augsburg cutters and one more in Nuremberg waiting for work.29

From the surviving drawings of the Weisskunig we can glean some insights into the processes by which illustrations for texts were produced.30 Whatever designs were created by the artists, Burgkmair and Beck, have disappeared entirely, either destroyed during the process of transferring and carving them onto the woodblocks, or else not prized as objects in themselves for safekeeping. Nor do any drawings survive from Teuerdank or the Genealogy, Maximilian’s other major publication projects.Yet in the “Question Book” (ms. H), thirty-four sketches made prior to actual woodcut designs remain, arranged according to their appropriate chapters; and a further fifty-two drawings, overlapping with the ones in ms. H, can be found in a similar volume (ms. G; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, formerly in Liechtenstein).31 Because these works duplicate each other as copies, they can be understood as “working drawings” for supervision and correction by the emperor prior to a final,“permanent” design to be cut for woodblock printing.

Even woodblocks could still be corrected or amended later, surely at the behest of the emperor in such advanced stages of production. Such change is evident from revisions made by Beck to several of Burgkmair’s and Schäufelein’s illustrations for Teuerdank.32 But Weisskunig sketches, like a modern photocopy, provided figures and compositions for inspection, and in the margins of the text manuscript redactions such designs are often duly noted, as in the case of Teuerdank for illustration no. 39 (cod. 2867, fo. 54):“Das gemäl ist gemacht und nach der schrifft gerecht und hat das zaichen (The sketch is made, corrected according to the text, and has the design [for the block]).” In the case of one of the Weisskunig sketches, Beck’s woodcut no. 166 from ms. F, Maximilian seems to have given approval, as the notation in his own hand reads:“Das gemäl ist also recht (The sketch is correct as is),” meaning either that the sketch is now consonant with the approved text or else that Maximilian’s desired visual presentation, here a battle scene, has been met. Other sketches in Vienna and Boston include corrections, especially concerning dress, armor, or weapons to be added or altered. From such drawings and comments, we detect the attention and meticulous scrutiny that Maximilian devoted to illustrations as well as to the texts of his published projects. When more major questions of accuracy were involved, as in the specifi cs of Habsburg ancestry (chapter 2), entire projects could be halted permanently (Genealogy), or at least seriously delayed (Arch of Honor). In the case of the Genealogy, surviving proofs of the earlier states of the woodcuts received added pen corrections and detailed indications of heraldry.33 Both the Historia as well as the Prayerbook (chapter 3) reveal surviving drawings, never cut for prints but still integral to the unique luxury edition owned by Maximilian himself. Surely more complex scenes, such as battles, or the records of ceremonial moments requiring exact detail, such as kings in their crowns and regalia, required close editorial checking of drawings or proof woodcut impressions in order to provide the authoritative historical record.

At the stage of carving the blocks, contemporary sophistication by German craftsmen in carving limewood figures in three dimensions reveals how subtly the Formschneider could transfer drawings or translate linear graphics into carved ridges and valleys.34 De Negker’s letter of 1512 to Maximilian further indicates how he, as supervising cutter, could standardize all the carvings for printing,“So I will be there to organize and prepare all matters of the two Formschneider and finally with my own hand to finish and complete and make pure, so that the work and the pieces will all be alike in carving and finally no more than one hand may be recognized therein.”35 In practice such absolute consistency was rarely achieved, but where the designer, especially Burgkmair, provided clear and consistent graphic syntax, his distinctive manual style usually could be translated with minimal variation from print to print. For the preserved Weisskunig blocks, there is little surviving information; however, for the woodcuts of Beck’s designs for the series of Habsburg Family Saints (chapter 2), many of the blocks are signed and dated by their carvers. Laschitzer studied these blocks and identified de Negker as well as the additional Formschneider active on the project between November 1516 and September 1518.36 Several of these same names also appear in single mentions on Weisskunig blocks.37 However, Laschitzer justly observes that the diff erences of carving are far more evident on the blocks than as printed images.

Only one book project was completed as planned and actually published during Maximilian’s lifetime: Teuerdank.38 Like the Prayerbook, it was intended for a restricted audience, to be presented by the emperor to his principal noble subjects in imitation of luxury manuscripts but produced in multiple copies, using the most modern technical means of printing. The script simulated scribal calligraphy by means of Schönsperger’s Fraktur type (as well as movable flourishes cut by Jost de Negker to imitate manual virtuosity). In place of illuminations, seventy-seven woodcut illustrations were designed by Beck, twenty by Hans Schäufelein, thirteen by Burgkmair, and a remaining eight by unknown hands.39 As fi ctionalized autobiography, Teuerdank has the same genesis as Weisskunig, the dictated memoranda around 1505–8. There it was paired with the fictionalized book of Maximilian’s tournaments, Freydal, as the “tragedi” counterpart to “comedi.”40 The title designates an eponymous knightly hero, whose thoughts are occupied by teuerlichen Sachen, that is, “serious matters,” natural to a fearless adventurer. Again this temperament is contrasted to Freydal, whose name indicates a “free spirit.” By the time of Maximilian’s letter (14 October 1512) to his trusted associate (Silberkämmerer), Sigmund von Dietrichstein, Weisskunig and Freydal are each described as “half-made,” with the “fi gures” still to be cut, while Teuerdank in an alias title,“Neithart,” remains in the adviser’s hands. Maximilian asks for the volume in order to review it with court scholar Johann Stabius before sending it on to Peutinger for final preparation and printing.41 Whether von Dietrichstein and/or Marx Treitzsaurwein had previously developed the primary text from Maximilian’s dictation, the final, verse redaction of Teuerdank was produced for publication by Melchior Pfi nzing, provost of St.Alban’s in Mainz and St. Sebald’s in Nuremberg.42 Pfinzing also added an appendix, called a “key” (Clavis), to match up the fictional deeds of Teuerdank with events from the life of Maximilian himself.43 Meanwhile, Peutinger continued supervising the actual printing of text and illustrations in Augsburg, culminating in the book with a foreword by Schönsperger, dated 1 March 1517. Some forty parchment volumes were printed, some of them with hand-colored illustrations, while another three hundred exemplars were printed on the cheaper support of normal paper, akin to a similar, two-tiered hierarchy of editions planned for the Prayerbook, also printed by Schönsperger (chapter 4).

Jörg Kölderer and the Innsbruck court artists seem to have provided original designs for the most pictorial—and best documented—of Maximilian’s printed projects: the Arch of Honor and Triumphal Procession (chapter 3). 44 In the case of the Procession we have the basic text dictated by Maximilian to Treitzsaurwein (along with Freydal and two other works) in 1512 (Vienna, National Library, no. 2835), as well as the outline of an additional, unrealized project, the “Arch of Devotion.”45 From this Procession program, a luxury manuscript edition on parchment (Vienna, Albertina) was prepared byAlbrecht Altdorfer and his workshop in Regensburg, presumably after lost designs by Kölderer, under the supervision of Maximilian’s court scholar, Johann Stabius.46 These illuminated miniatures by Altdorfer were a working copy for Maximilian himself, fi nished while the designs for the woodcuts of the Procession were also under production in Augsburg, following designs chiefly by Burgkmair. A copy of the dictated program for the Procession survives amid the Burgkmair woodcut proofs (Dresden), along with a signature by the artist and the date:“H. Burgkmair maler.Angefangen 1516And. 1 Abrilis.” Dates on the woodblocks (Vienna, Albertina) range between 12 November 1516 and 25 August 1518. Fully twelve diff erent cutters, including Dürer’s favorite in Nuremberg, Hieronymus Andreae, worked on the project.47 Burgkmair designed the first 57 woodcuts and contributed a total of about half of the 139 that were completed, although this project also was interrupted by Maximilian’s death in early 1519 and only issued posthumously by his grandson and successor, Ferdinand, in 1526. Therefore, many items in the planned program were never actually produced.

Stylistically, the remaining Procession woodcuts have been attributed to Altdorfer (thirtyeight), Beck, Schäufelein, and Dürer’s pupil, Hans Springinklee (twenty-two).The Burgundian Marriage woodcut was produced by Dürer himself, and Dürer took responsibility for the centerpiece: the Triumphal Chariot with Maximilian and his descendants. However, Dürer and Pirckheimer altered the program for this triumphal cart and received approval from Maximilian in 1518 on their presentation drawing of an allegorical Great Triumphal Chariot (W. 685;Vienna, Albertina).This woodcut series of eight blocks was only published posthumously and separately in 1522.48 A series of other Dürer drawings of riding trophy-bearers (W. 690–99;Vienna,Albertina) was also surely intended to have been cut for woodcuts for inclusion in the Triumphal Procession.

For the Arch of Honor the process must have been similar, but the results were more tightly coordinated in Dürer’s Nuremberg workshop, so the final product appeared during Maximilian’s lifetime—with a 1515 date on the woodcuts but actually a couple of years later owing to the controversy over the details of the central portion with the Habsburg genealogy (chapter 2).49 In the lower right corner appear the coats of arms of Stabius, Kölderer, and Dürer, respectively. Stabius coordinated the program and wrote the elaborate explanatory colophon at the base of the assembled Arch, while Kölderer produced two colored designs, one for Stabius, the other eventually sent to Maximilian’s daughter in the Netherlands, regent Margaret of Austria.50

Whether a luxury edition of the Arch, like that of the Procession, was ever produced on parchment can no longer be determined, because none survives, even in copies. Unlike the Procession and the unrealized project (chapter 4) for an “Arch of Devotion,” no dictated program from Treitzsaurwein remains. Dürer remained artistic supervisor for the entire project, and (except for the two flanking towers added by Altdorfer) he and his workshop (chiefly Hans Springinklee and Wolf Traut) produced the architecture, its decorations, and the main historical scenes. Only a few fi gures were actually designed by Dürer himself, according to scholarly consensus. In some cases, noted by Strieder, such as the Burgundian and Spanish Marriages, striking overlaps between the Altdorfer Procession miniatures and the Arch woodcuts suggest a common model, presumably drawn by Kölderer, but the possibility remains that Stabius provided the link between Altdorfer’s miniatures in Regensburg and Dürer’s woodcuts in Nuremberg. Altdorfer’s narrower side towers are not linked seamlessly with the remainder of the Arch and thus seem to have been a later addition to the overall ensemble.The Arch woodcuts were carved locally in Nuremberg by Hieronymus Andreae and his workshop.

The core historical woodcut scenes from the Arch of Honor, defi nitively issued during Maximilian’s lifetime in 1518 and reinforced by Weisskunig (which remained incomplete) reveal the major events—chiefl y dynastic marriages and major battles—that were singled out for lasting memory by Emperor Maximilian, so they can also serve as a capsule (auto)biography.51 After an initial image of a youthful Maximilian, strong and virtuous, comes the significant start of his reign through the marriage to Mary of Burgundy (1477; fig. 3). In this scene the two principals stand alone and side by side before a cloth of honor under a large, barrel vaulted arch.Their coats of arms are prominently displayed. At the center Mary bestows hers to her new armored bridegroom, who wears the same archducal hat on his head as tops his own Austrian heraldry, which looms large in the lower left corner of the print—the true, lasting subject of the event.52 This wedding, strenuously opposed by the French crown, led to military confl icts over the rulership of the Low Countries from 1477 to the Peace of Senlis in 1493, led by unruly cities, zealous to protect their local privileges and trade.

The first battle scenes out of the sixteen on the Arch encompass several from this extended Netherlands campaign, reading across and then down: (left side) Wars for the Burgundian Lands (1477–79), Battle of Therouanne/Guinegate (7 August 1479), First Guelders War (1481), and the Utrecht Conflict (1483–84); (right side) First Flemish Rebellion and Liberation of [Maximilian’s son] Philip the Fair (held captive in Bruges; 1484–85), Siege of Liège (1482–83), and the Second Flemish Rebellion and Subjection (1488–89). These varied scenes have a sameness of presentation that truly requires their rhyming captions for identification, though doubtless Maximilian closely inspected these compositions for historical accuracy. Most of them show various combinations of the military components of Maximilian’s forces, which contained traditional mounted and armored knights, complemented by the recent innovations of large siege cannons and infantry squadrons (Landsknechten), armed with pikes and broadswords (chapter 5). A good example of this multifaceted imagery is the Guelders War, where the foreground scene shows the imperial forces fighting under their Burgundian banner—the cross of St. Andrew with sparking flints—and dispersing the Swiss mercenaries under their red cross flag.The middle scene shows a troop of armored equestrians, also routing their foes from left to right; in the distance a variety of cannons besiege a fortified city. Some military scenes on the Arch feature a surrender, notably the staging of the liberation of Philip the Fair, plus the final scene of the Netherlands campaign, the Conquest over France, a conclusion in the lower right of the sequence. Just before this moment, the later (1506) alliance between Maximilian (in an imperial crown and wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece) and Henry VIII (whose banner shows Tudor roses) is staged as two armored groups, facing each other at a seacoast meeting before sailing ships on open water.

Grouped with these military scenes on the top row of the right side a significant royal moment is staged: Coronation of Maximilian as King of the Romans (Aachen, 9 April 1486; fig.4),when he attained the title of heir apparent to the imperial crown held by his father, Frederick III. Here the enthroned young monarch sits beneath a cloth of honor, surrounded by six electors, led by the three ecclesiastics who bestow his new crown.The remaining three ducal electors in turn (and according to protocol) convey imperial sword, orb, and scepter.53 The baldachin above the throne shows suggestive spiritual ornament above young Maximilian in the form of the dove of the holy spirit flanked by hovering angels.This scene is accompanied by a generalized poetic caption:“The Diet then for everything / Elected him as Roman King. / To everyone it was quite plain / That competently he would reign. / He fought for peace and for his right / Suppressing all unrest with might.”

A further dozen history scenes on the Arch continue the story with events closer to the homelands of Austria.They begin with the reconquest of territories occupied by Matthias Corvinus, the late king of Hungary (d. 1490) and Maximilian’s true contemporary rival; these losses had occurred while Maximilian was preoccupied with his succession in the Low Countries. According to the inscription, these lands were lost by Maximilian’s father but were restored in a mere three months. This process is exemplifi ed through the conquest of a besieged city by Maximilian’s troops, followed by a second battle scene to the right, probably Stuhlweissenburg, the Hungarian coronation site mentioned in the caption as well as in both texts, Weisskunig (four woodcuts) and the Historia.54 The significance of the Hungarian campaign lay in its resulting hereditary claims through the Peace of Pressburg (Bratislava, 1491) to annex the region into what eventually remained Austria-Hungary throughout the Habsburg imperium.

Next follows another dynastic scene of marriage, this time to the royal house of Spain, when Philip the Fair wedded Joanna, while his sister Margaret of Austria married the Spanish heir Juan (1496): “And in a well-considered act / He made his son’s betrothal fact. / The daughter of the King of Spain / Would bring his dynasty great gain. / For by inheritance one day / Six kingdoms thus would come his way” (fig. 5). Of course, the lasting significance of this marriage diplomacy would result in the eventual kingship of Spain by Maximilian’s grandson and successor as Emperor Charles V and the realization of his Habsburg ambitions to achieve truly royal status to go with the imperial title.This woodcut image, also by Dürer himself, essentially replicates his previous marriage scene with Mary of Burgundy, except that now Maximilian has also been included in the scene underneath the archway. Now wearing the bicuspid imperial crown as well as the Order of the Golden Fleece inherited from Burgundy, the emperor-elect (after the death of Frederick III in 1493) stands above his larger shield in the lower left corner, which repeats the imperial crown above the imperial double eagle. Philip’s crowned shield pairs both the Austrian and Burgundian arms, and he receives the varied arms of Castile and Aragon and other Spanish lands from Joanna.

Beneath this row comes Maximilian’s most galling setback: the Swiss War of 1499, depicted as a standoff between two facing infantry forces with pikes and their respective national banners before a scenic mountain valley landscape.The vague caption puts the best face on this debacle, which established Swiss independence by claiming that Maximilian “demonstrated faith quite unafraid” as he came to the aid of the army of the Swabian League.The next woodcut also shows further military conflict on behalf of the Spanish (his in-law King Ferdinand), halting and reversing the French incursion into Italy at Naples (1503).This scene is followed by one of Maximilian’s greatest successes: the Battle of Wenzenberg during the Bavarian War of 1504. He waged this war in support of the legitimate Munich heir (his brother-in-law) against the Bohemian troops who backed Palatinate claims to the Bavarian succession of Landshut. After losing Switzerland in a regional rebellion, Maximilian surely now felt vindicated in his authority, particularly as a prince among princes, by quelling another potential resistance so close to his family and heartland.

A further reception scene follows, akin to the coronation as king of the Romans, celebrates Maximilian’s feudal sovereignty over Milan (1512), first solemnized with his marriage to Bianca Maria Sforza (1494–1511). In this woodcut the crowned emperor is depicted enthroned and receiving obeisance from a representative of Milan, signified by a Visconti serpent banner that complements the imperial double eagle. The timing of the ceremony stems from the recent development of the Holy League, in which the pope and Venice teamed up with Ferdinand of Spain to oppose France, later joined by Maximilian at the end of 1512. Initially, this alliance led to the withdrawal of occupying French forces (although the short-lived Sforza revival in Milan was soon overturned at the Battle of Marignano, under the leadership of young King Francis I). “With great endeavor and with pride / He succeeded in bringing Milan to his side / Although by sly maneuver and crime / He lost it again after a time. / Yet his wisdom on behalf of the nation / Soon brought about its restoration.”55The ambiguity of these lines also points to the vicissitudes of Milanese fortunes and politics from 1494 to 1515 (and even later with the reconquest of Milan by Charles V over Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, 1525, later woven for him into a commemorative tapestry cycle by 1531; see chapter 7).

Out of chronological sequence, the next scene is a battle against Venice, whose opposition to Maximilian prevented his imperial coronation trip to Rome, so that he had to be crowned instead in the safe border territory of Trent (6 February 1508).The ensuing war (1508–10) against Venice actually resulted in a costly stalemate, but the Arch woodcut depicts the battle before open water and shows its outcome tilting toward the imperial forces over the Venetian soldiers under the banner of the lion of St. Mark, and the caption makes the same rosy claims.56

The remaining two events occurred before the 1515 official date on the Arch (though its actual execution lasted at least two more years as details, particularly of the early Habsburg genealogy were being worked). But their deep significance is evident from their authorship, ascribed to Dürer himself.The first of these is another alliance image of 1513, essentially reinforcing the 1506 link with Henry VIII of England against the common enemy, France, which had formed the subject of a prior historical woodcut on the Arch. Marked by their army banners—the Burgundian fl ints/St.Andrew’s cross and the Tudor rose—both rulers face each other in the foreground. Both sit astride their steeds wearing elaborate battle armor of the latest design, complete with pleated skirt Faltenrock Harnisch), as they stretch out their right hands to seal the pact. Their meeting occurs in a generic pictorial space, representing the alliance forged in the aftermath of the Holy League in 1513.This putative encounter follows joint siege victories over French forces in the Netherlands at both Thérouanne (the Battle of the Spurs) and Tournai, each town mentioned in the caption text.57

But the ultimate image of the Arch history scenes— another woodcut by Dürer, to complement the initial marriage scene to Mary of Burgundy—is the Vienna Congress of 1515.Along with the acquisition of territorial claims to Spain through marriage diplomacy a generation earlier (Philip the Fair and Margaret of Austria), this double wedding of Maximilian’s grandchildren linked Austria to central Europe, that is, Hungary, Bohemia, and Poland, and firmly established what would become the Austro-Hungarian Empire (fig. 6).The two children of King Vladislav of Hungary and Bohemia were joined to the Habsburgs, Ferdinand and Mary (later known as Mary of Hungary) with the political sanction of Sigismund of Poland.58 In Dürer’s woodcut the three crowned rulers all stand under the most ornate of his archways, supported on Corinthian columns and adorned with carved coff ers—redolent of the opulence of the actual event. Maximilian, visibly older and with portrait-like features, stands, as always, at the heraldically superior left side above his double eagle heraldry surmounted by the imperial crown. In the center Vladlislav brings his own coat of arms and presents both of his children, Anna of Hungary and crown prince Ladislaus. Soon afterward, in 1516, the death of Ferdinand of Spain would bring Charles, son of Philip the Fair, to the kingship of Spain, and the death of Ludwig in battle against the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Mohàcs (1526) would elevate Ferdinand to rulership over Austria-Hungary. With the Vienna Congress the historical scenes of the Arch conclude, just when the future fortunes of the Habsburg dynasty had become fi rmly established, even though Dürer left space to add one more woodcut. In planning the presentation of his Arch, Maximilian surely knew that his reign was nearing its conclusion, but he doubtless did not expect to suff er his fatal illness so soon—only a few years later (12 January 1519).

Even more than for his memorial publications and images, Maximilian fretted over his only monumental project to be brought close to a point of near-completion: the bronze statue ensemble that he designed for his tomb memorial (chapter 2). Just as Maximilian provided the tomb for his own father, Frederick III, in St. Stephen’s cathedral Vienna, so did he prepare for his own ensemble, whose partial completion was realized posthumously, when Ferdinand rendered the same act of filial piety toward him.59 Its planning and execution offer the most complex process ever undertaken for Maximilian, exemplifying the collaboration inherent in all of his projects. Forty life-size bronze statues were planned for the tomb, along with thirty-four busts of Roman emperors and one hundred statuettes of Habsburg family saints. Of that number, only eleven bronzes were actually cast during the lifetime of Maximilian, in the crucial decade between 1508 and the end of 1518.At least three of those (Arthur,Theoderic, and Albrecht of Habsburg; probably also Zimburgis of Masovia) were subcontracted to bronze casters outside the court foundry at Innsbruck-Mühlau.60 The execution of the project was first entrusted in 1502 to Gilg Sesselschreiber, maler von München (painter from Munich), who collected visual documentation and then provided canvas designs (Visierungen) for the eventual statues, which he presented to Maximilian as well as to Konrad Peutinger in Augsburg in 1508. Peutinger’s role as adviser not only included his historical background in Habsburg genealogy, then being coordinated for publication with illustrations by Hans Burgkmair, but also drew on his special interest in Roman history, including his considerable coin collection, used as models for the busts of the ancient emperors. Amazingly, despite his complete inexperience with the technical aspects of bronze casting, Sesselschreiber was then sent to Innsbruck and placed in charge of the entire project. He began by utilizing the skills of the local artillery caster, Peter Löffler, to make the fi rst figure, Ferdinand of Portugal.Then he developed his own workshop, consisting of a painter, two carvers, two casters, and a smith. After the initial casting of each separate part of a figure, a comprehensive wooden sculpture model was then used as an armature, covered in wax, and modeled before being cast in sections.Thus both the Sesselschreiber design and the wooden model remained as templates for the fi nished statues in bronze.

However, the work dragged on because of the time needed for polishing, chasing, and refi ning the numerous surface details; instead of the four statues per year promised by Sesselschreiber, only portions of statues were produced, according to a 1513 inventory. Separate contracts for fi gures were issued by Maximilian in 1513–14 to the bronze sculptor Peter Vischer in Nuremberg and to the wood sculptors Veit Stoss of Nuremberg and Hans Leinberger of Landshut. Dürer made figure designs for Leinberger (Count Albrecht IV of Habsburg, drawings in Liverpool and Berlin; fi g. 7)61 and probably also for Vischer as well (Theoderic and Arthur, now lost). By 1517, an impatient Maximilian had instructed Peutinger to dismiss Sesselschreiber, and the artist’s shop, headed by his son and son-in-law, completed work on the statues cast to date.Already Peutinger had employed an Augsburg carver, Jörg Muskat, and two bronze caster brothers, Hans and Laux Sartor, for the busts of twenty-one Roman emperors (chapter 3). In addition, Stefan Godl of Nuremberg, a bronze caster, was installed as the permanent replacement for Sesselschreiber. Godl had begun in 1514 with Leonhard Magt as his carver to execute designs by Jörg Kölderer (after Mennel’s illustrated genealogical text) of the Habsburg saints for the planned series of twenty-three statuettes. On the basis of these trouble-free and efficient casts, Godl won the job of supervisor of the entire project in 1518, completing Leinberger’s Count Albrecht of Habsburg, previously delayed by casting difficulties, to the full satisfaction of the emperor. By using the lost-wax process of casting bronze, Godl thus produced more statues in less time and at a considerable cost savings. For Ferdinand I, Godl created twelve statues with the aid of a single sculptor, Magt, and four assistant bronze casters.

Kölderer’s role as designer continued as well. As in the case of the statuettes, Magt followed his models quite literally, albeit somewhat stiffly. Filling in the gaps left by Sesselschreiber’s drawings and fi nal designs, Kölderer produced his own full-size Visierungen as well as a parchment codex of thirty colored drawings (ca. 1522–23) of the tomb figures—at once an inventory of the previously completed statues, plus a copy or modification of Sesselschreiber’s additional designs (Vienna, National Library, no. 8329).62 A later parchment (ca. 1530,Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. nr. KK 5333) consists of thirty-nine colored drawings by the Kölderer workshop to be used as a control guide during the execution of the fi nal pieces.63

This cursory survey of Maximilian’s main memorial artistic projects reveals a number of important patterns regarding the emperor’s working methods with both advisers and artists. Most immediately striking is the collaborative nature of all of Maximilian’s projects, which involved designers, cutters, and printers of woodcuts (or carvers and casters of the bronze statues) as their production technicians, not to mention the secretaries, editors, and scholarly advisers who supervised both texts and programs.The role of Innsbruck as court center remained relatively small compared with either the Augsburg of Peutinger and Burgkmair’s group or to the Nuremberg of Pirckheimer and Dürer. In addition, several court advisers had no fixed center of operations; instead they traveled to the appropriate centers of production.This situation applied particularly to Johann Stabius.

Regarding the role of court artists at Innsbruck, the focus falls on Jörg Kölderer, who came as close as anyone to the traditional role of Hofkünstler.64 Documented from 1497, Kölderer’s tasks often included menial assignments, such as painting coats of arms or banners, but he was also involved in architectural design and decoration: the 1499 facade paintings of the Tower of Arms (Wappenturm) of the Innsbruck palace, or the frescoes of the Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl) of the palace at the Old Town Square. He also illustrated favorite manuscript books for Maximilian, including the Tyrol Hunting Book (1500) and the Tyrol Fishing Book (1504).65 The stipulations of Kölderer’s 1501 retainer obliged him only to spend a quarter of each year at the court and to produce “economical” paintings for the court.66 Kölderer later made the pictorial inventories (sketches 1507, completion 1512) for Maximilian’s Zeugbücher, or itemized weapons in the armories (chapter 5), and he produced colored drawings of the imperial fortifi cations in the south.67 It was this quality of his art—his literal and meticulous recording of actual objects or symbolic complexes, such as coats of arms—that rendered him ideally suited to record (or to supervise a workshop that recorded) human inventories as well, such as the Habsburg family saints or the tomb project statues. Even in the hunting and fishing books, Kölderer soberly recorded the topographies of Maximilians favorite Revieren, or game preserves. Documents also mention Kölderer as the equivalent of a secretary, transcribing visual ideas instead of verbal texts, such as the early Visierungen of the Triumphal Procession in 1507 and the “two Triumfwagen” of 1512.68

In that same year of 1507, a renewal of Kölderer’s court artist status absolved him of the costs of his artistic materials and provided him with two workshop apprentices, thus raising him above the ordinary responsibilities of a guild artist in the cities.69 Erich Egg provides the overview of his duties:“paintings of diplomatic boxes, banners, hunts, decorative paintings in interior castles, restoration of the old frescoes in Castle Runkelstein, arms for funerals and on buildings, plans of fortifications, designs of hunting trophies.”70 Manifold and often menial, both public and private, invariably pragmatic, these artistic duties often serve as the visual equivalent of princely memoranda. Hardly the stuff out of which the modern, sovereign, learned, and independent artist emerges, as Warnke suggests of the prototype Renaissance court artist, such as Mantegna at the Gonzaga court in Mantua.

Parallel to Kölderer stands the “private secretary” (Geheimsschreiber), Marx Treitzsaurwein. He devised the early drafts of texts from dictation, particularly the fi ctionalized autobiographical texts: Weisskunig, Teuerdank, and Freydal. He also recorded the program of the Triumphal Procession. Like Kölderer,Treitzsaurwein seems to have been used by Maximilian chiefly as a recorder and transmitter rather than as an originating source of ideas or as a scholarly editor or adviser. [continued]

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File created: 4/25/2008

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