V. Scans from Colling’s Gothic Ornaments

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Title: Plates from Colling’s Gothic Ornaments, vols. I & II
Author: James Kellaway Colling (1816 – 1905)
Subject: Gothic Architectural ornaments
Year: 1847
Source: Personal collection

Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts

My recent trip to Münster, Germany reignited an old flame. That goes back to my late teens when I first picked up a book at a used book store in Grants Pass, Oregon titled “Deutsche Kunst” by Wilhelm Müseler. This passion was historic architecture in general, and Gothic architecture in particular. Years later, in 2006, I had the dreamed-of opportunity to actually “build” an entire Gothic church and monastery for the digitally generated sets of the Canadian fantasy television series “Sanctuary”. Even though there was no brick or mortar involved, it allowed me to delve deeply into the spirit and the bones of medieval architecture. Ogival arches, hammerbeam ceilings, bundled columns, and world of forgotten construction techniques. It also allowed me to amass quite a library on the subject, my favorite of which was Viollet le Duc’s encyclopedia on architecture. This you can consult yourself on Wikisource. Marvelous! Here I will share scans from a book I have on Gothic ornament by James Colling from that heyday of Gothic revival, the Victorian Era. Many lovely plates with gilded highlights which have to be turned page by dusty page to be really appreciated.

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IV. Cartouches from the Maps of Joan Blaeu

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Title: Cartouches from the Atlas Maior
Author: Joan Blaeu (1596 – 1673)
Subject: illustrated frames and details
Year: 1662
Source: Various

Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts

Joan Willemsz. Blaeu (1596 – 1673) was one of the most prolific mapmakers of his time. He was also an innovator in the field of the decorative motif. Dutch mapmakers were of the first to take the classical elements used in traditional cartouches from early-baroque Italy, and transform them into whimsical —sometimes even macabre and fleshy— romantic tableaux. Compare the work of Joan Blaeu with that of his father Willem from a generation earlier, and this becomes evident. I would like to know what the relationship was between mapmakers such as Blaeu, who could always afford to let the imagination run wild, and the great silversmiths Johannes Lutma and Adam/Paul van Vianen, who were creating
revolutionary new forms within a far more conservative medium. These two genres show remarkable resemblances. The question is, who influence who?.

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III. De Bry’s Fortificatio

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Title: Fortificatio
Author: Theodore de Bry
Subject: star forts and bastions
Year: 1604
Source: Deutsche Fotothek

Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts

Here is a collection of woodblock prints from Fortificatio, or “The Fortification”, by the Dutch-German architect Johann Theodor de Bry (1561 – 1623) and others.  It’s not just their historical value that interests me, but actually their formal characteristics.  They make me think of mandalas and rosettes and remind us of the wish of humans to create perfect symmetries, regardless of their functional value.  In fact the belief in symmetry and platonic perfection in form often went against better judgement or practical considerations.  This is of course the sign of the Artist.  It amazes me that military commanders put so much faith in form over function.  But it pleases me that such martial structures —cities really— could only be enjoyed for their perfection in the form of engravings.  If you’ve ever walked among the moats and bastions of these places (Neuf Brisach and Naarden come to mind) you can’t help but be confronted by the disconnect between their perfection as seen from the air and the confusion of elements and perspectives from the point of view of the wanderer.

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II. “Constighe Modellen”: Dutch 17th Century Auricular Art

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Title: Verscheyden Constighe Modellen and various others
Author: Johannes Lutma, Adam and Paul van Vianen
Subject: Designs in the auricular style
Year: 1653
Source: personal collection

Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts

Those of you who have worked with us will know that our offices are in the Lutmastraat in Amsterdam. But do you know who Johannes Lutma was? Johannes Lutma, with Adam and Paul van Vianen, was one of the silversmiths that developed a peculiar new style in the 17th century: the Auricular style.
The auricular style or lobate style (Dutch: Kwabstijl) is a style of ornamental decoration, mainly found in Northern Europe in the first half of the 17th century, bridging Northern Mannerism and the Baroque. The style was especially important and effective in silversmithing, but was also used in minor architectural ornamentation such as door and window reveals, and a wide variety of the decorative arts. It uses softly flowing abstract shapes in relief, sometimes asymmetrical, whose resemblance to the side view of the human ear gives it its name, or at least its “undulating, slithery Continue reading

I. Civilian Costume from the Known World, 1784

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Title: Costumes civils actuels des tous les peuples connus
Author: Jacques Grasset de Saint Saveur
Subject:Ethnographic drawings
Year: 1784
Source: Scans

Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts

These scanned images of from an 18th century French book on world costumes never cease to make you laugh. In spite of being very nicely drawn, they still can’t live down their basic naivety. And this is what’s interesting. Today we are so familiar visually with other cultures that even our most clumsy racial stereotypes still seem positively enlightened when compared to what we knew of other peoples in the 18th century. However, if you look closely at the European examples, you see that within a much smaller radius there was far more diversity than there is today. Compare the costumes of Catalonia with those of Corsica, for instance, or Brittany with Flanders. The frontier of the strange was so much closer to home.

You also see the trouble the artist had in rendering costumes from written descriptions of voyagers. In the case of the Japanese gentleman, you see aspects of the kimono as you would imagine them from a French description “patterned silk robe” without the signs that actually make it recognizable as a kimono. The same is true of the Japanese woman’s hair.

This collection of drawings is a strange mirror of the development of the concept of racism, from a time when we couldn’t help but be ignorant and fanciful about other peoples, in a time that European “superiority” was more a belief in virtues of enlightenment or Christendom than of the de facto power and privilege that Westerners enjoy today.

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