Stuttgart: Hulsius, 1616.
Oblong folio: 28 x 36 cm. 4 parts in 1 volume, comprising 4 volumes of etched plates, each with its own engraved title page. Contents: Vols 1-4: 83 plates as follows (plate counts include the engraved title pages to each part: Pt. 1, 20 plates (and 1 leaf letterpress dedication). Pt. 2, 18 plates. Pt. 3, 8 plates, Pt. 4, 37 plates. For detailed notes on the plates, see below.
A very rare festival book published by Esaias von Hulsen with etchings by Matthäus Merian the Elder to commemorate the baptism of Prince Friedrich (Dec. 1615-1682), son of Barbara Sophia of Brandenburg, Duchess of Württemberg (1584-1636) and Duke Johann Friedrich von Württemberg (1582-1628). A year later, similar celebrations were held for the baptism of Friedrich’s younger brother, Prince Ulrich (born May 1617) and a new festival book was printed to commemorate that event.
This copy is bound with a separately-printed letterpress volume of text, meant to accompany the plate volumes, describing the celebrations and entertainments (see Part II of the description below, after the description of the 4 plate volumes). The letterpress dedication, bound after the engraved title in the first volume of plates, from the publisher to Duke Johann Friedrich, is dated Stuttgart, August 19, 1616.
The plates and the accompanying text volume depict and describe the elaborate festivities held in Stuttgart from the 10th to the 17th of March 1616 in celebration of the baptism. The entertainments included jousts, processions, choreographed dances, songs and recitals, and a memorable masque. The week of festivities culminated in a massive fireworks display. These festivities, staged for visiting nobility, were held in the Lustgarten, the centerpiece of the court complex and the pride of the Dukes of Württemberg.
This is a complete copy with all 83 plates (including the four engraved title pages) and the letterpress dedication, as called for by Wüthrich. The plates are for the most part unnumbered. Plates 76 and 77 (Wüthrich 210 and 210a) are pasted together to form one image (folded). Plate 2 is a view of the Stuttgart Lustgarten and palace complex. Plate 83 is a folding view of the fireworks spectacle. According to Wüthrich, the majority of the plates (with the exception of 16, 24, 25, 69-72) are the work of Merian.
Condition: Bound in contemporary stiff vellum, stained, lacking ties, boards slightly bowed at corners and extremities, lacking front endpaper. A very good copy with light finger-soiling and minor marginal stains, occ. small tears to blank margins (far from the images), and some other minor cosmetic faults as follows: front endpaper soiled, frayed and creased; first title page soiled, with one small stain in the corner of the image, a tiny hole (mended) in the plate affecting one letter, a small worm-trail, also mended crossing the bottom rule, and a few marginal repairs (not affecting the image); soiling to the edges of the Lustgarten plate (upper blank edge v. slightly frayed), light browning to a handful of plates, one plate lightly foxed, two small light stains to plate 4 Pt. 1 (one entering the image area).
The performers in the processions and entertainments included members of the nobility and their retinues, including Duke Johann Friedrich himself, who appeared in the procession and elaborate mock battles as King Priam of Troy. The Duke also participated in the masque, “Tanz der Nationen” (Dance of the Nations) which featured four massive papier-mâché heads, including that of a Moor. Six dancers and musicians, symbolizing various nations, emerged from each head. Johann Friedrich, richly adorned with jewels and disguised with makeup as a Moor, came forth from the papier-mâché Moor’s head and performed a dance, which included an “Ethiopian jump” (a sort of cartwheel). The first plate in the book illustrates this entertainment, with the giant heads, musicians, and dancers -among them the Duke in blackface performing his cartwheel.
The entertainments included a wide array of mythological and allegorical figures and floats, all of almost all of them illustrated in the engravings. The visuals were enlivened by songs, speeches, and tales, sung and spoken by various characters in French, German, and English. The opening night performances alone give a sense of the richness of the spectacles.
On the evening of May tenth, after the banquet and masque, a procession of Trojans, Greeks and Romans, gods and goddesses, servants and knights, and other figures, made its way into the gardens. First came the Trojan soldiers, led onto the field by a Moorish servant in livery. They were followed by the goddesses Virtue and Fortune and their waiting women, on horseback. Then came the first of the truly elaborate floats: a rocky hill with a grotto, surmounted by a flowing fountain, and a leafy trellis under which the Nine Muses performed a concert.
Next came Priam in his chariot, accompanied by Pallas, Juno, Venus, and Mercury) and after them Priam (the Duke), Hector, Paris, and Achilles (with his companion the fair Polyxena.) The next group to arrive were led by Scipio Africanus, with an elephant steered by two Moors, and a float in the form of a triumphal chariot, with trophies of war and Carthaginian prisoners, and a sculpture of the conquered city. The defeated Carthaginian Asdrubal and other vanquished warriors also appeared. The next chariot was that of Justice personified, attended by angels, who drove before her the figure of Injury. Next appeared Empress Germany together with the “nymphs” of her “countries” (the electorates of Saxony and Palatine, Bavaria, Westphalia, etc.), who bore escutcheons to identify themselves. Another, rather bizarre figure appeared: Concord, who had four faces and eight arms, her right hands holding an orb, a sword, a shield, and scepter. The left held her shield with the words “Concordia Invicta.” She led before her, bound, the monstrous figure of Discord.
The pageant continued. Lucidor, Regent of the Island of Paphos and Protector of Venus and Cupid, appeared, and, with him, another elaborate float: a representation of Sicily’s Mount Eryx, with an artificial grotto, decorated with shells, within which was a fountain. Snakes, lizards, snails and other creatures crawled within the crevices. At the summit sat the goddess Venus, naked and bearing a flaming heart, within a pavilion made of gold cloth, the souls of many kings and knights lying at her feet.
Priam, Scipio, Empress Germany, and Lucidor all challenged any and all worthy knights to compete with them in the running of the rings on the next day. Five German nobles competed on the 11th, including the Duke of Württemberg.
The spectacle of 13 May revolved around the theme of Christendom’s wars with the Ottoman Turks. The protagonist was the Hungarian knight Laßsla Janusch (based on the historical figure Hunyadi János (d. 1456), the Hungarian statesman and military leader who battled the Turks on Hungary’s borders.) The pageant included a float in the form of a Venetian ship that carried the dead body of the warrior, and a parade of Hungarian soldiers, some riding winged steeds, bearing aloft decapitated Turks’ heads on their lances.
On the 14th, a mock tournament of jousting as held and prizes were awarded. On the 15th there was a hunt and a gift-exchange.
The festivities -including this lavish publication- were extremely expensive to stage and sapped the resources of the Duke. In his memoirs, Prince Friedrich, whose baptism had been celebrated, wrote "[My] baptism was called the Great Baptism because of the great number of people and the too-great expenses that went into it, for costly processions, tournaments, fireworks and expensive publications... which we are still paying for today.”
The purpose of the festival was less to celebrate the baptism of the young price than to amplify the prestige of the Duke and to impress his important guests. Two of the divisional title pages bear dedications to the visiting nobles. The most prominent of these were the new prince’s godparents, Frederick V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine (1596-1632) and his English wife, Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), daughter of King James I. In 1616 Frederick V was head of the Protestant Union, a league of European Protestant powers, of which Württemberg was a member, and the leading proponent for an international league of Protestant powers. His marriage to the English princess raised hopes (never realized) that England would join such a league. The Baroque poet Georg Rudolf Weckherlin (1584-1653), who composed verses in honor of the festival, asserted (in a special, English-language work), that it was the “blessed presence of the English princess” that was the “chief cause of the shows”. And indeed, the masque in particular, with personifications of England, Ireland, Scotland, and America, certainly glorified her.
There are slight variations in extant copies (the ordering of the plates, instances in which more than one etching have been printed on a single sheet, and instances in which two sheets have been pasted together to make a composite scene.) Both our copy and the copy in the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg have one plate in an earlier state than the versions of the same plate found in the copies held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel.
VD 17 23:251746S; Wüthrich, Das druckgraphische Werk von Matthaeus Merian d. Ae., (1966) I, entry 45 (numbers 142-216); Lipperheide Katalog der Lipperheideschen Kostümbibliothek, Sbd 4; Vinet 739; Heyd 1020; Lotz 23 u. 101 (Abb. 19); Faber du Faur 162; SKB 2830.
Assum, Johann Augustin (1577-1634) under the pseudonym “Philopatrida Charitinus”; Weckherlin, Georg Rudolf (1584-1653), contributor.
Warhaffte Relation und historischer, politischer, höfflicher Discours uber deß durchleuchtigen, hochgebornen Fürsten und Herren, Herren Johann Friderichen, Hertzogen zu Würtemberg und Teck, etc. Graven zu Mümpelgart, etc. Herren zu Heydenheimb, etc. I. F. Gn. Jungen Sohns Printz Friderichen Angestelter und Gehaltner, Christlicher und Fürstlicher KindTauff : Sampt darbey begangnem und glücklich vollendtem Fürstlichem Ritterlichem FrewdenFest zu Stuttgardten: Den 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. &c. Martiji, Anno 1616 / Auff I. F. Gn. gnädigen Bevehl, verfertiget Durch Philopatrida Charitinum.
[Stuttgart]: Getruckt bey Johann Weyrich Rösslin und Johann Alexander Cellio, 1616
Oblong folio: , 40 p.; 65,  p. (last page blank)
Only edition of the independently published description of the aforementioned festivities for the christening of Prince Frederick. Contains the descriptions of the scenes depicted in the pageant and therefore acts as a text companion to the plate book, with which it is sometimes bound (as here.) The “Relation” was finished before the plates. The dedication (to the Duke and Duchess) of the “Relation” is dated 28 April 1616; that of the “Repraesentatio” is dated 19 August 1616. Assum’s book includes verses written by the Baroque poet Georg Rudolf Weckherlin (1584-1653).
VD 17 39:123548T; Lipperheide Sbd 5; Thinhaupt 4178; Faber du Faur 162
The numbering of the plates in this description includes the engraved title pages. For convenience, I have numbered the parts individually (Wüthrich lists all 83 in one numerical sequence).
20 plates (incl. t.p.), 1 leaf of letterpress. Some plates with numbering, as follows: Plates 2-3, not numbered (hereafter “nn”), 4 hand-numbered “4”, 5-7 nn., 8 numbered “4” in the plate, 9 nn., 10 numbered 6 in the plate, 11-13 nn., 14 numbered “3” in the plate, 15 numbered “11” in the plate, 16 nn., 17 numbered “17” in the plate, 18-20 nn.
Engraved t.p. signed “Georgius Thonauwer Inventor.” and “Mattheus Merian Basiliensis fecit.”
Plate 2 (“Furstlicher Lustgarten zu Stuettgartt”) signed “Mat. Merian fe.”
Plate 4 in our copy has no background (compare with Met. Museum copy)
Plate 9 is partially masked
Plate 11 signed “Matthias Merian Basiliensis fecit”
Plate 20 lightly browned
18 plates (including engraved t.p.,), some with numbering, as follows: Plates 2-6 numbered “1”-“5” in the plate, 7-8 nn., 9 numbered “5” in the plate, 10-11 nn., 12 numbered “11” in the plate, 13-14 nn., 15-18 numbered “14”-“17” in the plate.
Engraved t.p. signed “M. Merian fecit”. With dedication to Frederick V Palatine (1596-1632) and his English wife, Elizabeth Stuart (1596-1662), daughter of King James I. The engraving features the arms of the English Order of the Garter.
In the Wolfenbüttel copy plates 4 and 6 are printed on one sheet.
In the Wolfenbüttel copy plates 10 and 11 are pasted together to form one image, and folded.
8 plates (including engraved t.p.,), some with numbering, as follows: Plate 2 numbered “40” in the plate, 3 numbered “41” in the plate, 4-8 nn.
Engraved t.p. is the same as that in Part 2 but with a new engraved dedication, to George Frederick of Baden-Durlach (1573-1638), and the dedicatees arms pasted over the corresponding parts on the previous t.p.
Plates 2 and 3 lightly browned
37 plates (including engraved t.p.,), some with numbering, as follows: Plates 2-9 numbered “1”-“8” in the plate, 10-13 are numbered “1”-“4” in the plate, 14-18 nn., 19-25 numbered “1”-“7” in the plate, 26 is numbered “6” in the plate, 27-28 are numbered “1”-“2” in the plate, plates 29-37 nn.
The plates in this section are not in the order of the plates as given by Wüthrich.
Engraved t.p. is the same as that in Part 1 but with new engraved text -the dedication to Duke Johann Friedrich’s brother, Ludwig Friedrich von Württemberg-Mömpelgard (1586-1631)- pasted over the original text.
Plate 3 has two etchings on one sheet, both signed “2” in the plate.
Plate 5 is signed “M. Merian Basiliensis fecit”. Some other plates in this series have text and some of those are also signed by Merian.
Plate 26 is a duplicate of Plate 24 (as in the Heidelberg copy.)
Plates 33-34 are pasted together to form a single image, and folded.
Plate 37 (the fireworks display) is folded.