3.1 Hans Jakob Fugger
Strada’s first contacts with Hans Jakob Fugger, his chief patron for well over a decade, certainly took place before the middle of the 1540s. As suggested earlier, the possibility remains that Strada had already met this gifted scion of the most illustrious German banking dynasty, his exact contemporary, in Italy. Fugger [Fig. 3.1], born at Augsburg on 23 December 1516, was the eldest surviving son of Raymund Fugger and Catharina Thurzo von Bethlenfalva. He had already followed part of the studious curriculum which was de rigueur in his family even before arriving in Bologna: this included travel and study at foreign, rather than German universities.1
Hans Jakob, accompanied on his trip by his preceptor Christoph Hager, first studied in Bourges, where he heard the courses of Andrea Alciati, and then followed Alciati to Bologna [Fig. 1.12]. Doubtless partly because of the exceptional standing of his family—the gold of Hans Jakob’s great-uncle, Jakob ‘der Reiche’, had obtained the Empire for Charles v—but certainly also because of his personal talents, Fugger met and befriended a host of people of particular political, ecclesiastical or cultural eminence—such as Viglius van Aytta van Zwichem, whom he met in Bourges and again in Bologna—or later would ascend to high civil or ecclesiastical rank. His friends included both Germans, such as the companion of his travels and studies, Georg Sigmund Seld, afterwards Reichsvizekanzler, his compatriot Otto Truchsess von Waldburg, afterwards Cardinal and Prince-Bishop of Augsburg [Fig. 1.14], and Wigulaeus Hund, later Chancellor of the Duke of Bavaria. Among the Italians he met we find the young Alessandro Farnese, the future Cardinal [Fig. 1.15], and Cristoforo Madruzzo, afterwards Prince-Bishop of Trent; another fellow student was Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, afterwards Bishop of Arras, Cardinal, secretary of state of Emperor Charles v and King Philip ii of Spain and Viceroy of Naples [Fig. 1.13].2
The young Hans Jakob was a very assiduous student, who showed a great interest in classical studies; and his interest included the material remains of
Fugger’s nostalgia may have been particularly poignant because, in consequence of his father’s sudden death, he had been obliged to break off his studies prematurely. Although Hans Jakob should have taken his father’s place in the company, his uncle Anton [Fig. 3.3] thought him, probably rightly, still too young for this: so, again according to the family tradition, he was sent to gain some practical experience, first in the Antwerp branch of the firm, and then in several others. During this period he perfected his extraordinary command of foreign languages: according to the Fuggerchronik, he fluently spoke Italian, French, Dutch, Latin and Greek, and he also appears to have been well-versed in Czech and Polish and to have known some Hungarian, which was his mother’s native tongue.
Fugger’s unusual command of the modern languages may have been one of the talents that recommended him to Ferdinand i, and it appears that Fugger spent some time at Ferdinand’s court in Innsbruck and in Vienna, where a number of young nobleman were educated together with the young Archdukes. Fugger would always remain on excellent terms with the young Archdukes and their sisters, and in particular with the eldest, Maximilian, who shared so many of his interests. It was here that Hans Jakob met his first wife, Ursula von
In view of Hans Jakob’s lively interest in politics it is not surprising that he soon came to take part in the administration of his native city. Paradoxically Fugger’s tolerant but determined Catholicism and his family’s traditional adherence to the imperial party were an advantage to him in the city which in 1537 had expelled its Roman-Catholic clergy and had adhered to the Schmalkaldic League. Among Fugger’s first important tasks were embassies to the powerful Imperial minister, Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle, and to Charles v himself [Fig. 3.3]. As an imperial partisan his intercession was of some use in the conflicts of Augsburg with Charles v, and in 1548 he was appointed to a position in the government of the town. In 1549 he became a member of the Imperial Council, and in 1551 he was given an honorary position in Ferdinand’s
Already in the preceding decade Hans Jakob had been engaged in the direction of the firm. Since 1550 he had been chiefly occupied with the management of its Spanish interests, which had immeasurably increased in the preceding quarter of a century: one only needs to think of the monopoly in mercury which the firm obtained from Charles v, its lease on the possessions of the ‘Maestrazgos’—the Spanish knightly orders of Santiago, Alcántara and Calatrava—and of its branches in Chile and Peru. Such expansion had only been possible because the firm had continually agreed to finance Charles v’s policies, and therefore the bankruptcy of the Spanish Crown following Charles’ abdication and the consequent financial crisis profoundly shook the foundations of the firm. It would have been difficult even for a man of much greater commercial interest and talent than Hans Jakob to recoup the immense losses incurred: the Fugger remained creditors of the Spanish crown for close to three million ducats. Hans Jakob’s princely style of life and his generous patronage of learning and of the arts did not contribute to redress the balance, and he soon found himself even in private financial difficulties. In 1561 and 1562 he could not pay his taxes, and his debts in Augsburg alone came to over two hundred thousand Gulden; in June 1564 his lack of solvency had become so pressing that he was constrained to announce his personal bankruptcy, with a total amount of debts of over a million Gulden. This seemed worse than it was: Fugger possessed very extensive landed property in Alsace, Swabia and Bavaria, and in fact he was helped out by the Augsburg City Council itself, who saw to an agreement with his local creditors—these were in fact paid off even earlier than was stipulated—and by Duke Albrecht v of Bavaria [Fig. 3.4], who first lent him a large sum of cash, and afterwards agreed to take over part of Fugger’s debts in return for his splendid library and his collection of antiquities. The Duke moreover successfully mediated in Hans Jakob’s difficulties with his cousins, which were caused by his bankruptcy and by a dispute about his share in the assets of the firm after Anton’s death. The conflict was finally resolved in early October 1565, when a final division was made, and Hans Jakob completely withdrew from the firm.5
The Duke’s intervention on Fugger’s behalf is only one expression of the intimate friendship that had developed from about 1547 onward between the young Bavarian Prince and the slightly older Augsburg patrician, ‘dem Fürsten von Bayern vertraut wie ein Bruder’.6 Already in the middle of the 1550’s Fugger appears to have become indispensable to the Duke, whose political opinions and cultural interests he shared and probably strongly influenced. Soon he was entrusted with important diplomatic missions, and he kept the Duke abreast of the latest news by means of the Fuggerzeitungen, regular bulletins drafted by Fugger correspondents and employees all over Europe.7 Following Fugger’s withdrawal from the firm and from political activities in his native Augsburg, his connection with Munich strengthened and assumed a more formal character: at Easter 1565 he was appointed Musikintendant. This in fact involved the supervision of all Italian correspondence, which not only included letters dealing with the acquisition of musical instruments and the recruiting of musicians and singers—doubtless in close consultation with Albrecht v’s celebrated Kapellmeister Orlando di Lasso—but also with the purchase of books, antiquities, and works of art for the Bavarian court. In the autumn of the same year Fugger was asked to lead the retinue of the young Prince Ferdinand of Bavaria, who was sent to Florence to represent his father at the wedding of his sister-in-law, the Archduchess Johanna, to Francesco de’ Medici. In 1570 Fugger was appointed a Privy Councillor, and he was given a quite exceptional salary. In 1573, finally, the notorious bankrupt was appointed to the newly created function of Hofkammerpräsident, chairman of the duchy’s financial authority: proof that though his bankruptcy had damaged Fugger’s financial position, it had in no way detracted from the general respect his merits entitled him to.
Duke Albrecht’s own esteem and affection for Fugger is clearly expressed in his will of 1573, in which he determined that Fugger should continue to receive his salary even if he resigned his functions at court, and that his still outstanding debts should be remitted. Fugger, whose health had never been strong, would not profit from these generous legacies, since he predeceased his patron by some four years in July 1575. He was buried at the side of his first wife in the Dominican Church at Augsburg; and since 1857 his memory is kept alive not only by the epitaph he composed himself, but also by a bronze statue at Augsburg—by that time a Bavarian town—which was erected in his honour by the distant descendant of his friend and patron, King Ludwig i of Bavaria [Fig. 3.5].
3.2 Fugger as a Patron and Collector
This statue, however, does not commemorate Fugger’s commercial success or his political achievements, but is dedicated to the memory of the ‘Beförderer der Wissenschaft’, that is to Fugger’s extraordinary importance as a patron of learning. Learning in which Fugger himself was very far from deficient, and in which he doubtless would have played a much more important active role, had his position and pressing responsibilities not prevented him. This is most clear from Fugger’s short treatise on the history of the Schmalkaldic Wars: written by an engaged observer who himself had to some extent participated in the conflict, and based on the many sources to which he had exclusive access, it remains a most informative and illuminating document for the political and religious history of the years preceding the Augsburg Interim.8
Fugger’s particular interest in history is further borne out by two other works that for centuries have been erroneously attributed to his pen. The first of these is the Gehaim Eernbuch Mans Stammens und Namens des Eerlichen und altloblichen Fuggerischen Geschlechts, a history and genealogy of his family that he commissioned from the Augsburg archivist Clemens Jäger and the draughtsman Jörg Breu the Younger; it was written in 1545–1547 in collaboration with and under close supervision of Fugger himself [Figs. 3.6–3.7].9
Fugger’s immediate contribution to the actual contents of a much more splendid commission, the famous Wahrhaftige Beschreibung zwaier<…>der alleredlesten<…>Geschlechter der Christenheit, des habspurgischen unnd österreichischen Gebluets<…>bis auf Carolum den fünfften und Ferdinandum den ersten, commonly known as the Ehrenspiegel Österreichs, was limited to its conception and general supervision. The text of this voluminous compilation of the genealogy and history of the Habsburg dynasty was likewise written by Clemens Jäger, and is of little moment: ‘kein Mensch wird jemals mehr aus diesen Ungetümen sein Wissen zur bereichern suchen’, says Otto Hartig. But the profusion and splendour of its illustrations is truly exceptional, and it comes as no surprise that—some twenty years later—the Ehrenspiegel was copied on behalf of the Austrian Archdukes themselves.10
The Ehrenspiegel cannot compete with, say, the Grimani Breviary or the Farnese Hours in artistic quality: in fact, as Hartig points out, all superfluous and distracting decoration is studiously avoided. But it is exceptional in that its illustrations—an extraordinary collection of portraits, views of towns and villages, battles, emblems and coats of arms—are the fruit of a conscious and sustained attempt at historical and topographical accuracy: some of the miniatures document in detail monuments and inscriptions that had already been destroyed at the time [Figs. 3.8 and 3.9].11 This interest in drawings and engravings not as works of art, but as documents, as more or less reliable sources of information, is, as we shall see, typical for Fugger and his circle; and Strada soon demonstrated that he fully shared this attitude.
More than as a historiographer—the treatise on the Schmalkaldic Wars had no influence, since it was never published!—or as ‘Fundator’ of the Ehrenspiegel, Fugger is of importance for his extraordinary patronage of learning.
The extent of Hans Jakob’s patronage, however, greatly surpassed those of his relatives. It is best demonstrated by the extensive list of books that his protégées presented or dedicated to him. This list gives over forty names, and opens with Syrianus’ comments on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, in a translation by Girolamo Bagolino, which was published in 1558 by the Accademia Veneta with a very flattering dedication to Fugger. The Accademia della Fama, as it was also called, had been founded in that year by the Venetian nobleman Federico Badoer, after consultations with intellectuals and princes from all over Europe, among which Fugger was the most important German representative. Among the other Italians we find Anton Francesco Doni—not surprisingly the copy of the first book of his Le Ville which he presented to Hans Jakob includes an additional manuscript text ‘La Villa Fucchara’—the antiquary Ortensio Landi, the ecclesiastical historian Onofrio Panvinio, and Jacopo Strada himself. Among the learned Germans we find Sigmund Gelenius, the bibliographer and naturalist Conrad Gesner, Johann Ludwig Brassicanus, Nikolaus Mameranus, Abraham Loescher, Johann Heinrich Münzinger, Johannes Pedioneus, the printer Johannes Oporinus, and Hieronymus Wolf, to mention only a few.13
Of course such dedications or gifts were not always tokens of gratitude for immediate financial support. Sometimes the various authors referred to other benefits received from Hans Jakob, who might have used his influence in helping them find a job, could have been their host in Augsburg, or had helped them to find or to gain access to some important but rare source necessary for their work. It is to Fugger’s credit that, though his staunch adherence to the established religion is without question, he never let religious difference prevent him from helping those whose intellectual gifts clearly deserved his support: and such tolerance included his day-to-day life and his own house, as is demonstrated by his appointment of the strict Protestant Hieronymus Wolf as his librarian [Fig. 3.12].
But not all authors who presented their works had received such concrete support from Fugger: sometimes they merely acknowledged the helpful exchange of opinions with the learned colleague, or dedicated the fruit of their labours to Fugger purely for his wide renown as a patron of learning and the fame of his extraordinary library. This library, which for some years was the largest and most complete in Germany, laid the foundations of the Munich Hofbibliothek—now the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek—and of all Fugger’s endeavours has doubtless conferred the most lasting benefits on posterity. Already as a young student Fugger had used his ample means to acquire many books, such as a new edition of Livy which, when a student at Bourges, he lent to his teacher Alciati.14 By the time he returned from Italy in 1535, his collection had already grown sufficiently to be specifically referred to in one of Viglius’ letters. Fugger’s just pride in his library, which was the fruit of a conscious and systematic programme of collecting, is expressed in the opening paragraph of the Ehrenspiegel, in which he relates his efforts to the example of Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples, who had included an opened book in his armorial bearings.15 The great naturalist and bibliographer, Conrad Gesner
Fugger sought to acquire a possibly complete collection of texts in the three ancient languages, that is including Greek and Hebrew, the study of both of which was still very recent; in particular that of Hebrew, which was only coming into its own with the advent of the Reformation, and the consequent increase in interest in the Old Testament. To Fugger, completeness meant that if no printed edition of a given text was available, he would strive to acquire a manuscript copy: and in fact the editio princeps of some texts was prepared on the basis of manuscripts from his own library.17 He often employed the agents of the Fugger firm in the various capitals of Europe to provide him with new editions, to discover the manuscripts of important, unpublished texts and, if these could not be acquired, to have them copied by expert scribes. Moreover he occasionally employed more specialist agents, who were scholars themselves, such as the Flemish neo-Latin poet Niccolò Stopio—acting director of Bomberg’s printing house in Venice, which specialized in Hebrew editions—who kept him informed of the Venetian book market; Stopio’s compatriot Arnoldus Arlenius, a learned student and merchant of ancient manuscripts and curator of the important collection belonging to Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Charles v’s ambassador to the Serenissima; and, some years later, the brilliant young antiquary Onofrio Panvinio.18 Though Fugger provided his
Though the collection of classical and biblical texts in the three ancient languages must be considered as the backbone of Fugger’s library, and he himself was particularly interested in classical and modern historiography and its auxiliary sciences (such as numismatics and epigraphy), Fugger’s conscious aim was to build up an extensive but balanced body of documentation covering all branches of science and the humanities. Such encyclopaedic passion clearly reflects the spirit of the age, a spirit which is evident in the proliferation of dictionaries—or ‘Theatres’, ‘Promptuaria’ etc.—that attempted to codify human knowledge, such as the Pandectarum sive partitionum universalium, published in 1548 by Fugger’s protégé Conrad Gesner [Fig. 3.10]. This bulky volume, containing no less than thirty thousand subject entries, cross-references, and bibliographical data, was itself merely the companion volume of Gesner’s Bibliotheca Universalis, a four-volume bibliography of all books in Latin, Greek and Hebrew ever printed. Its first edition was published in 1545 [Fig. 3.11], soon followed by a supplement volume, as well as by some cheaper, abridged editions.19 It is clear that the Biblioteca Universalis strongly stimulated Fugger’s ideas: in the very year that it came out he unsuccessfully invited Gesner to become his first librarian. Gesner’s work probably first made Fugger think of his library as an independent instrument of research, as an institution rather than as a private library: the Bibliotheca Universalis became the ideal model for his library, rather than just a convenient guide for future acquisitions.20
Fugger’s thirst for universal knowledge and his interest in a systematically accessible arrangement of such knowledge are confirmed by his connections with the Antwerp doctor Samuel Quiccheberg, whom he appointed as his librarian in about 1559, and who appears also to have been charged with
The Munich Hofbibliothek, which at that time was being moved into new premises designed and built for the purpose, was thus enriched with a collection of several times its own size: Fugger’s library had already swallowed whole the entire library that had once belonged to the Nuremberg humanist Hartmann Schedel. Fugger had acquired this collection en bloc in 1552, and he had maintained it as a separate entity. Fugger’s success in his attempt at completeness can be deduced from the present holdings of the Munich Staatsbibliothek, as described by Hartig: though he gives no estimate of the number of printed books in Fugger’s library, this must have exceeded rather than have fallen short of 10.000 volumes; and together with Schedel’s codices the library contained about a thousand volumes of manuscripts.23 Hartig’s survey is doubtless a more reliable guide than Jacopo Strada’s panegyric on the library to which he himself had contributed some of his proudest achievements; yet it is surely no coincidence that Strada, who had been involved in its expansion since about 1544, chose to demonstrate its excellence by means of a comparison with Gesner’s Bibliotheca Universalis.24
3.3 Fugger’s Employment of Strada
Strada’s acquaintance with Hans Jakob Fugger dates from the middle of the 1540s at the latest. Though it is quite possible that Strada had first met Fugger in Italy, it is not very likely that Strada came to Germany in response to Fugger’s explicit request: in that case he would have settled in Augsburg, rather than in Nuremberg. But though we do not know exactly when and how their contact was established, their meeting was inevitable in view of their common interests, if only because Strada must have been eager to study the well-known collection of antiquities that had belonged to Fugger’s father, Raymund the Elder, as well Hans Jakob’s own collection.25 It appears that Fugger considered Strada ab initio as a scholar, an antiquary, rather than as an artist: we have no concrete indications that he commissioned or acquired any original works of art, such as paintings or objects of goldsmith’s work, from him or that he employed him
Fugger’s almost exclusive interest in Strada’s scholarly potential is not surprising, because Fugger was much more a patron of learning than a patron of the arts—very little is known of his activities in that field, in which he was rather overshadowed by his younger cousin Hans.26 As we have seen, Fugger had many contacts with scholars from Germany and the Netherlands, many of whom were resident in Southern Germany: in Augsburg, Nuremberg, at the Bavarian court in Munich or at the University of Ingolstadt. Though he also maintained close contacts with several scholars in Italy—among which the poet Ortensio Landi and the historian and antiquary Onofrio Panvinio—there were few Italian intellectuals actually present in his immediate circle, and few scholars who knew Italy from thorough first-hand experience. The linguist Fugger may have greatly enjoyed the possibility of regularly practising his Italian—in which he was remarkably proficient, to judge from his letters to Panvinio—yet Strada’s first-hand knowledge of the tangible remains of Antiquity preserved on Italian soil must have been his principal attraction: whereas the northern scholars in Fugger’s circle by this time may have admired these during their visits to Italy, they had not yet studied them in detail.27
It was this study—the study of the history of the ancient world not only from its literary sources but also from its tangible remains, such as inscriptions, coins, and even from the remnants of its works of art, architecture and technique—that was Fugger’s private passion. This passion he had inherited from his father, Raymund Fugger (1489–1535), whose modest, but quite choice collection of antiquities had been one of the sources for Petrus Apianus’ and Bartholomäus Amantius’ Opus inscriptionum sacrosanctae vetustatis totius fere orbis of 1534, which work was dedicated to and financed by Raymund himself [Figs. 3.14–3.17]. Raymund’s collection, known only through a description by the humanist Beatus Rhenanus and a document relating to the division of Raymund’s estate among his heirs, was housed in two rooms on the upper floor
At the final division of Raymund’s estate between his heirs in 1548, the collection of antiques was not assigned to Hans Jakob, as one would have expected, but to his brother Raymund the Younger; though in the reshuffling of Fugger property connected with Hans Jakob’s bankruptcy in 1566 the two collections were united and ceded, as we have seen, to Duke Albrecht in partial refunding of Hans Jakob’s debts.30 Unfortunately, even less is known about Hans Jakob’s own collection than about that of his father, and it was obviously subordinate to the library.31 Library and collection filled several rooms of his Augsburg house, and apart from books and manuscripts their contents included coins and medals, full length antique statuary, and a series of marble busts of Roman Emperors and Empresses. There also appear to have been contemporary works of art, such as casts in bronze and/or gesso, paintings and drawings, as is indicated in the brief passage devoted to Hans Jakob’s library in the Fuggerchronik:
Next to this quantity of beautiful books [in his house] will not only be seen common and badly painted portraits, as can generally be seen with other people, but instead a huge number of old Roman portraits, all manner of consuls, dictators and other leader of the Romans, as well as the Italian and German Kings of the Romans and the [Holy Roman] Emperors, in drawings, in painting, or casts.32
The emphasis on portraits in various forms corresponds to Fugger’s own historical and genealogical interest as well as to Strada’s research, which may well have been stimulated by Fugger, who in any case intended to reap some of its fruits. Fugger employed Strada chiefly in connection with his collection of antiquities and its appurtenances, initially particularly in the field of numismatics. When Strada met Fugger he had already acquired some expertise in this field, owing to his study of Giulio’s medals and his travels in Italy. In the preface to the French version of his 1553 Epitome thesauri antiquitatum he even claims that he came to Germany partly ‘pour recouvrer desdites Medailles, à l’accroissement et perfection de mon livre’.33 Hans Jakob now generously provided him with the means necessary to continue his studies, very likely in the form of a stipend similar to those he had given other erudites:
<…> while I was in Germany, this good lord has been so good and kind to me, as to provide me liberally and wholeheartedly all that was convenient and necessary to me, so that it would be a perpetual shame and everlasting infamy, if I would disdain to present this my labour, for as much as it is worth, to him who is my lord and sovereign master <…>34
This implies that Strada for some years received a stipend or pension sufficient to live on together with his travel expenses while he visited and studied in detail the numismatic collections of Germany.35 Meanwhile he elaborated and arranged the numismatic documentation (descriptions, drawings, casts in wax or other copies) that he had already collected in Italy. This material was intended to be published in a voluminous, fully illustrated numismatic Corpus, which would never be realized because of the excessive expense its printing
But Fugger’s library would profit in a more substantial way from Strada’s numismatic studies: the numismatic material that Strada collected was also drawn upon to produce an immense series of pen-and-ink drawings for Fugger, in fact a manuscript version of the planned Corpus, the Magnum ac Novum Opus Continens descriptionem Vitae, Imaginum, numismatum omnium tam Orientalium quam Occidentalium Imperatorum ac Tyrannorum <…> [Figs. 3.22–3.23]. The obverse and reverse of every single coin were represented each on a large sheet of beautiful paper (‘carta reale’), and in a size very much larger than life (in the drawings the average diameter of the coins is 25 cm) [Figs. 3.26–3.33]. Initially these drawings were made by Strada himself, later he had them executed—always under his close supervision and probably on the basis of his own sketches—by several draughtsmen he employed in his studio.
The drawings were very highly valued: a fellow antiquary and collector, Adolf Occo, wrote that Fugger had paid a ducat for each of them, and this price is confirmed by the compensation Strada asked for similar drawings he offered to the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1574.37
Strada continued to work on this project for over twenty years: the last volumes were sent in 1571 to Duke Albrecht v of Bavaria, who had acquired the series together with Fugger’s library and collection. Since the thirty-odd volumes of this Magnum opus—they are now split up between the Forschungsbibliothek at Gotha in Thuringia and the British Museum—contain in total over nine thousand drawings, their manufacture must have contributed greatly to his prosperity.38
Why did Fugger so highly value these drawings? Hardly for their merit as works of art—in any case rather modest—for in that case Fugger, though an important patron of learning, but no great patron of the visual arts, would have been as advanced in his tastes and insights as those very few Italian collectors of drawings of which Giorgio Vasari is the best known. But Fugger was very much aware of the value of such visual material as a vehicle of exact information, information which could not be conveyed by words alone. This awareness he shared with many of his contemporaries, as is shown by the remarkable development in those years of the quantity and quality of the illustrations of scientific books or practical and theoretical manuals: the beautiful engravings from Titian’s studio in Vesalius’ De Fabrica Corporis Humana, and the first well-illustrated architectural treatises (Serlio, Vignola) come to mind. Such illustration, however, was extremely expensive, and therefore only feasible when large
Strada’s preoccupation with the collecting and diffusion of information in visual form became a Leitmotiv in his later career, and was fully shared by his patron. This is demonstrated not only by the numismatic corpus and other comparable material that Fugger acquired from Strada himself, such as the splendid illuminated volumes documenting the coats of arms of Popes and Cardinals, of Italian states and cities, and their noble and patrician families [Figs. 3.34–3.36], but also by, for instance, a (lost) manuscript version of Jean-Jacques Boissard’s book on costume, and the series of portraits and arms of the Popes commissioned from Onofrio Panvinio.39
For both Fugger and Strada, such material was an indispensable complement of the books preserved in the library, and it is presented as a completely integral part of the ‘Theatre’ or ideal museum sketched in Samuel Quiccheberg’s Inscriptiones vel tituli theatri amplissimi. Quiccheberg, who from the late 1550s onward was responsible for Fugger’s library and collection, already had links with Fugger in the late 1540s, and he may well have participated in discussions about this aspect of the collection. He certainly singled out this aspect of Fugger’s library for special praise, and explicitly mentions Strada’s Magnum opus in his description:
Raymund has indeed with this same brother [= Hans Jakob] and advised by Jacopo Strada acquired antique statues, and books in which countless coins are separately painted, in so many volumes that if they had to be transported they would burden many pack-mules.40
Nonetheless his argument in favour of the inclusion of such material in his Theatre, for instance in a section exclusively devoted to copper-engravings, was neither profound nor particularly original:
So in time such albums and other materials are increased by diligent patrons to such an extent, that solely from these images it appears possible to acquire knowledge of many subjects, for the observation of a single image makes a greater impression in the mind than the daily reading of many pages [of text].41
Apart from providing his patron’s library or Kunstkammer with these fruits of his erudition and diligence, Strada probably also acquired various antiquities for Fugger’s cabinet, in particular ancient coins and medals. Strada was very much at home in the shops of the goldsmiths and jewellers, which had become
It is suitable that great lords have talented men at their disposal to send to various countries, in order to look for marvellous things <…>43
When Strada dedicated his edition of Caesar’s Commentaries of 1575 to Albrecht v—the epistle as a whole is one long paean on the Munich Hofbibliotek and Fugger’s fundamental role in its creation—he relates how he had been sent to Italy with the specific purpose of purchasing such ‘marvellous things’ for his patron’s cabinet.44 Though Strada’s travels probably were primarily intended as learned peregrinations, and the results of his study would find their way into the numismatic albums prepared for his patron, it may be assumed that Fugger expected some more immediate and concrete results in return for his capital outlay. That such results did indeed include the acquisition of antiques—in particular of antique sculpture—is indicated by Fugger’s comment, in a letter to Niccolò Stopio of 1567 referring to Strada’s purchases: ‘<…> di quelle [= ‘anticaglie’] ne comprò in Roma già parecchi anni fa, me resto sattisfatto’.45 The wide range of Strada’s tasks can be best demonstrated by an account of the documented travels he made while in Fugger’s service, that is his trip to Lyon in about 1550, and his subsequent trip first to Lyon, and then to Rome in 1553–1555. These are of sufficient importance, also in view of Strada’s later career, to have a paragraph of their own.
3.4 Architectural Patronage for the Fuggers: The Donauwörth Studiolo
Fugger’s documented patronage of Strada is restricted to antiquarian and heraldic materials. But Fugger’s commission of numismatic drawings can also be considered as artistic patronage: they are works of art in their own right. Because of his patronage Fugger was well placed to judge Strada’s competence in the field of design, of which his numismatic drawings provided excellent examples. Strada’s detailed reconstructions of the architectural reverses show that this included architectural and ornamental design. It would not be surprising if his patron sought to profit from this competence: thus Strada may have contributed to the refurbishment of the castle at Taufkirchen an der Vils, which soon after its acquisition in 1554 became Hans Jakob’s preferred country residence [Fig. 3.37].46
Because of Strada’s artistic background and his profound first-hand knowledge of avant-garde Italian architecture he would in all probability be consulted when his patron or members of his family and his immediate circle planned some artistic enterprise. One of these was the total reconstruction of the Pflegehaus at Donauwörth, acquired by Hans Jakob’s uncle and guardian Anton Fugger in 1536 and rebuilt and decorated in the following decade [Fig. 3.38].
The various decorative elements of the building, such as chimneypieces and wooden portals, all are in a consciously classical, architectonic manner; most of them appear to have been executed only in the mid-1540s [Figs. 3.40–3.45]. The most spectacular element among these is the wooden Stübchen, a small chamber or study constructed in wood, now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich [Figs. 3.43–3.45]. Both the architectural conception and the
Some of the elements in the Stübchen and two of the wooden portals [Figs. 3.41–3.42] appear to derive from Serlio, some of whose designs were already printed (in particular in the Quarto Libro, first published in 1540). But these printed designs are not sufficiently close to the Donauwörth portals to have served as immediate examples; they could only have served as a source of inspiration to artists already thoroughly conversant with their underlying principles of design. Strada was trained in Italy exactly in the environment—Mantua, Rome—which appears to have inspired the style of the Stübchen, and he and his patron certainly had immediate access to Serlio’s printed volumes.48 By 1546, the date of these two portals and the Stübchen, Strada had already been working for the Fugger for some years, reason why I think it is warranted to propose a tentative attribution of the design of these to him. Such
3.5 Strada’s Trips to Lyon
Strada’s first visit to Lyon took place in 1550, according to the preface to his edition of Serlio’s Settimo Libro. The primary motive of his trip was presumably his desire to make the first arrangements for the publication of his Epitome thesauri antiquitatum, and probably during this first sojourn he found a partner—the Netherlandish bookseller Thomas Guérin—to finance the printing, and came to some provisional agreement with the printer, Jean de Tournes; with the wood-engraver, probably Bernard Salomon; and with Jean Louveau, the author of the French translation [Figs. 3.20–3.22].50
At first sight it seems odd that Strada should have decided to print his book in Lyon, where Fugger—who probably bore part of the expense—had no commercial contacts, instead of other centres of printing such as Frankfurt, Nuremberg, or Venice. The reputation of its printers cannot have been the sole motive of Strada’s choice: though it might have been difficult to find a wood-engraver of a sufficiently advanced style in Germany, in Venice he certainly would have. Perhaps just because the Fugger, unlike other German bankers, were not represented in Lyon—they were too closely tied to the Habsburg interest to maintain branches in France—Hans Jakob was glad to create an opportunity to establish or renew contacts with a major intellectual centre in Europe, and to obtain the material for his library and collection (books, manuscripts, medals, perhaps other antiquities) that Strada could select for him.
Through his Italian connections, Strada must have been aware of the wealth and intellectual life of the town, which boasted a veritable colony of merchants and bankers from Florence, Lucca, Lombardy and Genoa, with some of whom he may have had contacts. Like many other Nuremberg merchants, Strada’s acquaintance Willibald Imhoff did maintain very close ties with Lyon, and may
Strada planned his second sojourn in Lyon to be longer than the first: he left Nuremberg early in August 1552, after having obtained permission to live up to three years in Lyon without losing his Nuremberg citizenship, and having sold his household effects.52 He would remain in Lyon at least until the actual printing of the treatise, which was completed on 6 November 1553.53 This visit therefore afforded him ample opportunity to establish contacts with the lively humanist circle flourishing in this centre of the Pléiade. A good impression of the brilliance and cosmopolitanism of this circle in the years preceding Strada’s arrival is given in Jean-Claude Margolin’s article on Jean Visagier’s Epigrammata, a volume of poems recording the names of and dedicated to the members of what Visagier considered a sodalitium, an informal academy which included Rabelais, Etienne Dolet, the German scholar-printer Sebastien Gryphius, Maurice and Guillaume Scève and Louise Labé, to name only a few.54 Strada will have felt particularly at home because of Lyon’s traditional connections with Italy: the city counted a considerable number of Italian families among its patriciate, such as the Gondi and the Guadagni, and at the time its archbishop was Cardinal Ippolito d’Este. Moreover various individual Italian expatriates had made their home temporarily or permanently in Lyon. One of these was Fugger’s old acquaintance Ortensio Landi († 1560), a friend of Dolet who had worked as an editor in Gryphius’ workshop in 1534–1535, and who had visited Hans Jakob in Augsburg in 1544–45. So Strada must have known him personally, and through him could establish contacts with other Italians in Lyon, such as the humanist Gabriele Symeoni, the lawyer Giulio Calestano and, perhaps most illustrious, the architectural theorist Sebastiano Serlio.55 The intellectual life of the city was strongly stimulated by the presence of an impressive
Strada’s first contacts in Lyon of necessity will have been with this circle: for the execution of his Epitome he needed to find a printer and an engraver who would be capable and willing to produce the book according to his wishes. He probably dealt with several printers and artists before settling with De Tournes and Bernard Salomon: a choice dictated by a desire for the highest possible quality rather than the lowest possible expense. Likewise it may well have been one of the Lyon publishers who provided him with the names of potential translators of the book, a job which was finally given to a humanist from Orléans, Jean Louveau. Possibly inspired by the success of the enterprise of the marchand-libraire Guilaume Rouillé Strada decided to publish the book at his own expense, instead of placing it with a professional publisher. It was a quite expensive project: a quarto volume of over four hundred pages, including close to five hundred woodcut images of medals, and published simultaneously in Latin and in a French translation. Doubtless this expense was partly borne by Hans Jakob Fugger, to whom Strada dedicated the book.
Strada was of course aware of at least some of the ins and outs of the book trade; yet apart from financial considerations, his relative inexperience in publishing will have contributed to his decision to enter a partnership with the marchand-libraire Thomas Guérin. There is no doubt, however, that Strada was the senior partner, since it is his printer’s device [Figs. 3.18 and 3.46–3.47] that figures on the title-page, rather than Guérin’s [Figs. 3.48–3.49].57
Strada must have spent quite some time in adding the final touches to his manuscript, putting the illustrations together, organizing and supervising the printing, and obtaining a copyright privilege from King Francis i, which was granted on the 11th of July 1553.58 Yet in between he had sufficient time on his hands to engage in other activities. Part of the time he will have scouted the bookshops in search of items suitable both for the library of his patron, Fugger, and for his own growing collection. But he obviously also continued his antiquarian research. Lyon afforded him ample opportunity to establish contacts with local scholars who shared his antiquarian enthusiasm. Proudly indicated by the poet Jean Lemaire de Belges as ‘le second oeil de la France’, its foundation antedated—according to Charles Fontaine’s Ode de l’Antiquité et excellence de la ville de Lyon—not only that of Paris, but even that of Rome itself.59 Objects testifying to this honourable past were collected at least since Pierre Sala (1457-ca. 1530), a ‘varlet de chambre’ in the household of Louis xii, brought together a small collection of local finds in his country seat, which he appropriately named l’Anticaille [Fig. 3.50]. In addition to a version of the Tristan legend, he wrote a manuscript treatise on Les antiquitez de Lyon, the first of an ample series of texts devoted to the subject written—but not often published—in the sixteenth century.60
Antiquarian studies in Lyon were not limited to local finds—such as the Table Claudienne, found in 1528 and first published by Symphorien Champier in 1537 [Fig. 3.51]—or even to local topics: thus the poet François Rabelais interested himself in Roman topography.61 In 1553 the marchand-libraire Guillaume Rouillé even published a chronicle of the world organized around a series of woodcut portraits of its protagonists that, he claimed, were taken from ancient coins. This cannot always have been the case, considering that these portraits include Adam and Eve, Noah, Osiris, Agamemnon and other personalities for whom such authentic sources would not have been available. This did not prevent this Promptuaire des médalles des plus renommées personnes qui ont esté despuis le commencement du monde to become a success: first printed in 1553, it ran through no less than eleven editions—in French, Latin, Italian and Spanish—before the end of the century [Figs. 3.52–3.54].62
3.5.3 Strada’s Contacts in Lyon: Collectors of Antiquities
There is a superficial resemblance between Rouillé’s Promptuaire and Strada’s Epitome thesauri antiquitatum, which appeared in the same year. Yet Strada obviously cherished more scholarly ambitions: he limited himself to the Roman Emperors, who certainly had issued coins which could actually be found. He explicitly stated that he only included images of those rulers of which he had in fact seen an original coin (however spurious to our more critical judgment). Though he probably met many members of Lyon’s intellectual milieu, we only know about those he had met in the course of his numismatic researches, the collectors of antiquities, for whom coins and medals were the most informative, affordable and easily available items.63 From the provenances given with the descriptions of coins in Strada’s manuscript A.A.A. Numismatωn Διασκευέ we can identify some of the collectors Strada visited.
Chief among these was the antiquary Guillaume du Choul, conseiller du roi and bailli of the Dauphiné. In his house La Madeleine, which was situated in the Montée du Gourguillon in the old part of the city, on the right bank of the Saône, he had brought together a celebrated collection of antiquities, and he published a number of learned studies of various aspects of Roman civilization.64 Strada describes his contacts with Du Choul in the preface of his Epitome thesauri antiquitatum:
<…> coming to France, I have met and frequented the company of Monsieur Guillaume Choul, born in that city, highly experienced in history and in the explanation of the reverses of coins and figured medals; a man moreover of such rare and ample judgment that one may easily count him among the first experts in this field, and not without reason, both for his excellent memory and his good and refined judgment. In his magnificent house (as I don’t think it necessary to hide) I have seen a great quantity of all sorts of antique medals, among which some are of gold, others of silver, and the rest of copper, which he has lent to me to copy those that I needed for my book of coin-reverses.65
Both Strada and Du Choul refer to each other in their printed works, and appear to have mutually exchanged information and studied each other’s coins: whereas in his A.A.A. Numismatωn Antiquorum Διασκευέ Strada only described some individual pieces from other Lyon collections, he describes scores of those he had seen in Du Choul’s cabinet, which implies that these not only were of a better quality, but also that Strada had had much greater opportunity to study them in detail. At the time Strada was already sufficiently interested and expert in architecture—probably stimulated by his contacts with Serlio—to be able to provide Du Choul with his own reconstructions (after the reverse of medals) of the temples of Janus Quadrifrons and of Jove Capitolinus: woodcuts of these were included in Du Choul’s Discours de la religion des anciens Romains, first published in Lyon in 1556 [Figs. 3.56–3.58]. It is quite possible
Among the provenances of coins given in the Διασκευέ Rouillé does not figure: judging from the Promptuaire Strada will hardly have considered him a serious numismatist. He may have better appreciated his new Italian acquaintance, Giulio Calestano, a lawyer from Parma who had provided Du Choul with some of his coins; fifteen years later Strada would attempt to acquire Calestano’s numismatic collection on behalf of Duke Albrecht v of Bavaria.68 The
Contacts with Gabriele Symeoni are not documented, but very likely, in view of their sharing both antiquarian and technological interests. Symeoni’s antiquarian interest is apparent in the epitaph he devised for himself [Fig. 3.58]. His expertise in the field appears in his many publications, such as Illustratione de gli epitaffi et medaglie antiche, printed by de Jean de Tournes, Strada’s printer, in Lyon in 1558, or his detailed description of the Auvergne,the Description de la Limagne d’Auvergne en forme de dialogue, which was published by Guillaume Rouillé in 1561. An indication of their possible contact is the extremely complex allegory of the printer’s mark that Strada chose for himself for his book printed in Lyon [Fig. 3.61]: one of its motifs, the butterfly kept in the claws of a crab with the device Festina Lente was derived from a coin of Augustus,
One would expect Strada to have wished to profit from his sojourn in Lyon by visiting Paris and to the principal centre of visual culture of the French Renaissance, Fontainebleau. The style of the title pages he drew for his manuscript numismatic works [Figs. 3.22–3.23, 3.62 and below, Fig. 4.04] reminds one of the courtly Mannerism of the School of Fontainebleau rather than the work of his contemporaries in Italy itself. Yet the only indication that he may have done so is a reference to the royal treasurer Jean Grolier (1479–1565) in the preface to the Epitome thesauri antiquitatum. Nowadays Grolier is best known as the owner of a splendid library: because of their superb bindings, books from his library count among the principal treasures of libraries and collectors lucky enough to possess them. But he also had a great interest in classical Antiquity; he was in touch with the informal academy of scholars and artists around Cardinal Marcello Cervini in Rome which attempted to reconstruct Roman civilisation by studying both classical texts and the physical relics unearthed in the city and elsewhere: coins, inscriptions, sculptures and other antique artefacts, and the ruins of ancient edifices.
Grolier was particularly interested in coins, to the extent of financing the publication, at the Aldine press in Venice, of the second edition of Budé’s fundamental treatise De asse et partibus eius, which appeared in 1522. Grolier’s expertise in the field gained him a place in a royal commission supervising the minting of French coin. In his house in the Rue de la Juiverie in Lyon he had brought together a collection of antique coins and statuary, which he had acquired by means of agents he employed to this purpose, and which was highly esteemed by Du Choul: ‘Monsieur the treasurer Grolier, an exceptional lover of Antiquity, in whose hands can be found the most beautiful medallions that can be found in our France at present’.73 An example of the beautiful small boxes in which he kept his medals, like his book bindings covered in gold-stamped morocco, is still preserved in the Musée Condé at Chantilly.74
When Strada wrote the preface to his Epitome thesauri antiquitatum he knew this collection, which Grolier had taken with him when he moved to Paris in 1530, only by reputation. He expressed the hope to be able to visit it in the future, for he considered it as ‘tout ce que je pense me rester touchant la perfection de mon livre’.75 It appears, however, that this visit never took place, because he had been shown the very few coins from Grolier’s collection that he mentions in his Διασκευέ either in Lyon or in Rome. It is easy to suggest some possible explanations for this fact: he may have met Grolier himself in either place (Grolier still possessed a house in Lyon), or may have seen coins destined for the collection in the hands of one of Grolier’s agents, while it is also possible that he only knew them by means of drawings or casts. Strada never refers to a visit to the French court—not even in his preface to Serlio’s Settimo libro, where one would expect it—and in his Διασκευέ he mentions no Parisian collectors apart from Grolier. This indicates that if Strada visited Paris or Fontainebleau at all, he cannot have remained there for any considerable time.
3.6 Strada’s Contacts in Lyon: Sebastiano Serlio
Most of the learned men mentioned above were humanists chiefly interested in antiquarian material, such as coins and inscriptions, which provided fixed and reliable data that could be used to interpret the literary sources, and thus could help to reconstruct the political history and aspects of the civilization of the Roman Empire. This was done, for instance, in Guillaume Du Choul’s Discours de la réligion des anciens Romains, printed by Rouillé in 1556. Du Choul was one of the few scholars who paid particular attention to the architecture of the ancients, including in his treatise, as we have seen, reconstructions of some of the temples of Rome that Strada had provided him with [Figs. 3.56–3.57]. Du Choul’s interest in such practical aspects of Roman civilization is confirmed by two other treatises, the Discours sur la castramétation et discipline militaire des Romains and Des bains et antiques exercitations Grècques et Romaines, printed together in 1555, likewise by Rouillé, and often reprinted. Such interest in classical architecture was not completely new in Lyon: several of its scholars and poets referred to the remains of the Roman city that could still be observed
Already in 1533 the young and gifted architect Philibert de l’Orme (ca 1515–1570) [Fig. 3.64] had travelled to Rome, where he not only moved in the circle of the Sangallo cousins, but soon engaged in measuring and even excavating ancient ruins, employing a team of masons to such effect that his work drew the attention of Marcello Cervini, the librarian of the Vatican, who was closely involved in the study of Vitruvius and the remains of classical architecture that took shape in Rome in these years.77 On his return De l’Orme introduced a more pure form of classicist architecture in Lyon, designing in 1536 the famous Ionic gallery in the Hôtel Bullioud [Fig. 3.63].
De l’Orme left Lyon for good shortly after completing the Galerie Bullioud and it is improbable that Strada ever met him elsewhere in France. But he did meet another architect-antiquary whose published works, because of their wide dissemination, already were and would remain even more influential than De l’Orme’s. This was the Bolognese architect and theorist Sebastiano Serlio (1575–1555), who had retired from the French court in 1548, and had settled in Lyon where he hoped to publish the remaining books of his architectural
Serlio did, however, succeed to persuade Jean de Tournes to publish the so-called Extraordinario Libro, a set of designs of ornamental door-surrounds. This was probably considered a potential bestseller, and it was indeed reprinted no less than fifteen times within the next twenty years, both in French and Italian [cf. Figs. 3.69–3.72].78
Doubtless Strada knew Serlio’s published works and was aware of his reputation: he sought him out already during his first visit to Lyon in 1550. Notwithstanding the considerable difference in age, they had much in common: both were Italian, both were artists with a particular and profound interest in architecture, both were passionate students of classical Antiquity and, last but not least, they both appear to have been suspected of Protestant leanings.79 Obviously they discussed Serlio’s projects, and already during his first visit Strada proposed to print the unpublished part of the treatise. Serlio was by now seventy-five years old, and not having found a publisher in Lyon ready to undertake such an expensive project, he may well have despaired of seeing his works into print. So he was happy to let Strada have his manuscripts, which
Apart from the material Strada needed to publish the remaining books of the treatise, Serlio also entrusted him with all the manuscript material and the drawings he owed, part of which apparently was likewise intended for publication, as appears from Strada’s preface to the Settimo Libro:
Now the said author, finding himself old, and suffering from the gout more than usual for his age, and also being tired of his labour, reasoned that he would rather sell to me also the remnant of the drawings that in the course of his life he had made in his own hand, as well as those by others that he had brought together. A good part of which he had moreover provided with his descriptions, planning one day to have them printed, and had ordered them in many volumes. But getting older, and also not very abundantly endowed by Fortune, he decided to make me the owner of all of this material, so that after his death it would not be lost or get into the
hands of professors of his art, who as the raven would dress themselves in the feathers of the peacock. And for that reason he wanted to see the end of it, and know with whom his drawings would remain after his death, and it seemed to him he would be the most content and happy man in the world, if they remained in my possession, thinking it certain that I would do them ample justice, by publishing them in print.80
Serlio’s confidence was not misplaced: Strada definitely planned to publish both remaining books of the treatise and the Book on military architecture, though in the end he only managed to print the Settimo Libro. Though this took him over twenty years, he took great care and laid out a great sum of money to realize a splendid edition, providing it with a Latin translation, having the woodcuts executed by expert engravers in Venice, and finally selecting one of the best printers working in Germany at the time, Andreas Wechel [cf. Figs. 3.77–3.80].81
Serlio spent part of his time during Strada’s second stay in putting in order his material, with which he was not quite finished by the time of Strada’s departure for Rome:
But while he thus to his great satisfaction was putting the material in order, and revising the texts which went with the figures of the drawings, so that I could the easier serve myself of them, an occasion arose for me to leave France and to return to Rome for some affairs of mine. And so I
paid him with a goodly sum of money for everything that he had, both drawn in own hand, and drawn by others <…>. Now when I left, it was not without great sadness on both sides that we said goodbye to one another. After my departure he himself hardly stayed any longer before returning to Fontainebleau, and there the good old man ended his life, leaving a great name behind him there, just as he had done in other parts of the world. For one can well say that he has restored Architecture, and has made it easy to everyone; and has pleased more with his books, than ever did Vitruvius before him: because the latter, for being a difficult author, was not that easily understood by everyone.82
This sympathetic and perceptive tribute shows that Strada even twenty years later still greatly valued what had been—together with his contacts with Guillaume du Choul and the printing of his Epitome thesauri antiquitatum—the most memorable event of his very profitable visit to France.
3.7 Civis Romanus: Strada’s Sojourn in Rome
Strada cannot have left Lyon before the end of 1553, since he obviously would have been eager to carry a sufficient number of copies of his treatise, the printing of which was finished on the 6th of November 1553. So he would have arrived in Rome about Christmas of that year at the earliest. He decided to leave, according to the preface of his edition of Serlio’s Settimo Libro, shortly after the unexpected death of Pope Marcellus ii in the spring of 1555; probably in fact only after the election of his successor, Paul iv Carafa, shattered any hopes for further papal employment. It is not known exactly when he left; by December 1556 he appears to have been back in Nuremberg already for some time. So his sojourn in Rome probably lasted a year and a half at least, about two and a half years at most; in any case sufficiently long to refresh his memories of his earlier visit in the mid- or late 1530s, to get thoroughly acquainted with the latest developments in antiquarian learning, and to examine the artistic achievements of the last years of the reign of Paul iii as well as the considerable enterprises realized during the relatively brief pontificate of Julius iii [Fig. 3.82].
What did he find? The long pontificate of the Farnese Pope (1534–1549), Paul iii, had helped to repair much of the damage done by the Sacco di Roma in 1527.
So the change in quality of artistic achievement in Rome in the 1530s is not a result of the Sack only: the development in style away from the ideals of High Renaissance art, already discernible in the 1520s, was an independent and inevitable movement. If Raphael had lived, if Giulio would have remained in Rome, Roman art of the 1520s and 1530s might well have been of a somewhat higher quality and of a greater degree of originality, but it is unlikely that it
But Rome was also a very lively intellectual milieu, though of a new seriousness caused not so much by the trauma of the Sack, as by the need to find an effective response to Luther and the German Reformation. Classical, historical and antiquarian studies occupied a central place in the preoccupations of this milieu. Considering philological and historical studies as indispensable tools in interpreting Scripture and patristic literature, it warmly welcomed any endeavour that shed more light on the history of the Roman Empire, and implicitly on that of the Early Church. Several other reasons can be adduced why the interest in Classical studies was particularly strong in Rome. The chief single factor was the presence in Rome of so many of the physical remains of Roman civilisation, often of quite outstanding quality and beauty, and of a grandeur that flattered the campanilismo surviving in the cosmopolitan culture of Papal Rome.83 Moreover such interest was continuously kept awake by new spectacular discoveries, often of great interest both for artistic and erudite reasons: the find in 1546 of the Fasti Capitolini easily excited as much enthusiasm among scholars as that of the Laocoön had done among artists and dilettanti.
Contacts between scholars and artists were unusually close at this time, as is evident in the erudite Vitruvianism of the informal Accademia Romana. Re-founded in 1542 by members of the circle of Cardinal Marcello Cervini [Fig. 3.89], it included artists such as Pirro Ligorio. Its method largely parallels the philological procedure of the humanists. Its researches can be interpreted as the quest for an absolute, classical authority: just like correct Latin should be based on the study of canonical classical texts, all serious artistic endeavour was to be guided by a correct edition of Vitruvius, supported and elucidated by careful study of the remnants of architecture from the best periods of Antiquity, in particular of certain canonical buildings such as the Pantheon,
The re-founded Accademia Romana or Accademia della Virtù probably based its research on what had been preserved of Raphael’s project. It should be noted that its programme was not limited to narrowly artistic concerns, but explicitly strived to collect all available evidence helpful to reconstruct in the mind both the physical environment of Ancient Rome and the civilisation of which that environment was the backdrop. Information was to be collected by measuring ruins, by copying, studying and interpreting coins, medals, inscriptions, reliefs and sculptures, bronzes, vases, etc. The column of Trajan was studied not only, and not even in the first place, for its aesthetic value, but for the information it provided about Trajan’s campaigns, and in general about the manner in which the Romans used to combat and defeat their enemies. For the identification and interpretation of deities, persons, personifications, constructions, objects depicted in coins or sculpture it was essential to utilize the literary sources of Antiquity that in ever greater quantity were made available by humanist philologists. This was an essentially historical or antiquarian approach, and it certainly merits to be taken seriously as a precursor of modern archaeological method. Among much other material it produced, for instance,
There were also a number of socio-political reasons why the humanists resident in Rome were especially drawn to the study of Antiquity. In the first place, such study was considered an erudite, virtuous pastime that was particularly suitable for the learned and celibate clerics that made up the greater part of the Papal court. Antiquarian studies were explicitly recommended in Paolo Cortesi’s treatise De cardinalatu of 1510, in which Cortesi argued that in dispensing patronage, his ideal cardinal should ‘select for special consideration men who engaged in humanistic studies, and especially those who investigated the more recondite aspects of Antiquity and the Latin language. He also expected that the cardinal would be able to appreciate such erudition’.87
When Cortesi wrote his treatise, another important motive for turning to antiquarian studies had not yet manifested itself. This was the advent of the Reformation, which based its doctrines consistently on Holy Scripture and the authority of the early Church. Attempts to reconstruct the early history of the Church—either to prove where it had gone off the track, as the Protestants tried to do, or to demonstrate that the Roman Catholic Church was the true and uncorrupted successor of the Church of the Apostles, as the Counter-Reformation attempted—often had to rely on antiquarian data (inscriptions in catacombs, Early-Christian sarcophagi, the mosaics in the Christian basilicas dating from the later Empire). The chief attempt from the Protestant side was the history of the Church known as the Magdeburg Centuries: edited by Matthias Flacius Illyricus, its first instalment appeared in 1559.88
It is no coincidence, I think, that the people involved in preparing the Roman Catholic response to the Centuries were often the same who are studied nowadays for their contribution to the development of classical studies. The best example is Onofrio Panvinio [Fig. 3.90], a young and very industrious scholar who both prepared an edition of the Fasti Capitolini and a new augmented edition of Platina’s history of the Popes. His interest in the physical remainders of both pagan and Christian Rome is borne out by his correspondence
As said, I do not think this is a coincidence, but the nature of the connection is not self-evident; the response to the Reformation can hardly be considered as a cause of the boom of antiquarian studies around the middle of the sixteenth century. But it is possible that it provided scholars interested in antiquarian subjects with an excuse to indulge their hobby. Moreover, Reformation and Counter-Reformation also provided a negative motivation to study classical Antiquity: reading Agustín’s letters one recognizes his profound and passionate interest in antiquarian studies, but one also realizes that such research provided him with a rare possibility occasionally to escape from the stress of contemporary business and dispute, in particular theological dispute.91
The interest in the remains of Antiquity, initially practiced mostly in clerical circles in Rome, soon migrated to a secular context: it is merely implied in Il libro del Cortigiano of Baldassare Castiglione, himself close to the Curia environment, but re-emerges more explicitly in some other tracts on courtesy and gentlemanly behaviour, such as Tomasso Garzoni’s La piazza universale.92 Interest in Antiquity was considered a suitable hobby for princes and high-placed officials also because it provided them with a decent means of showing off their wealth as well as their erudition. The proliferation of collections of antiquities documented by Maarten van Heemskerck’s drawings and Aldrovandi’s Delle statue di Roma should be considered from this point of view. These were brought together by competing prelates or by local patricians, who were stimulated by Roman patriotism or the pride connected with true or assumed descent from ancient Roman gentes.93
During Strada’s stay in Rome, which coincided with the last two years of Julius iii’s pontificate, interconfessional strife was still held in check by the faint hope that the Council of Trent might lead to some form of consensus between the Church of Rome and the Protestants. Julius iii himself, often characterized as the last Pope of the Italian Renaissance, was no religious fanatic, and was more interested in a good administration of the Papal State than in burning heretics. A typical representative of the curial ‘bourgeoisie’, he was a friend of humanist erudition and a sensitive patron of the arts, as is demonstrated in Alessandro Nova’s monograph on Julius’ commissions.94 The Villa Giulia as planned by Vasari and Vignola would have been perhaps the most convincing example of the integration of a splendid collection of antique sculpture in a setting of contemporary classicizing architecture; an integration so perfect that it is difficult to decide whether the Villa was conceived to house the antiquities, or whether the antiquities were collected to decorate the Villa.
The Villa Giulia must already have been one of the principal attractions in the emerging tourist-industry, of which the existence is documented by the publications of various types of guide books, such as Lucio Mauro’s Le antichità della Città di Roma, printed together with Ulisse Aldrovandi’s Delle antiche statue che per tutta Roma, in diversi luoghi, et case si veggono.95 Such industry is moreover attested by the succes of several publishers of prints illustrating the principal monuments of ancient and contemporary Rome, such as Antonio Salamanca and Hieronymus Cock, and in particular Antonio Lafreri.96 The popularity of such material is indicated by the fact that Giovanni Battista Cavallieri’s Antiquarum Statuarum Urbis Romae Liber, a sort of visual complement of Aldrovandi’s guidebook first printed probably in the 1550s, was thereafter continually reprinted in editions of ever increasing bulk.97
Collections such as those in the Belvedere in the Vatican, the Capitol, and in the courtyards or gardens of the palaces of the Roman nobility and the various cardinals resident in Rome would be normally of easy access to the interested visitor—many of whom were connected to the household of one of these prelates or magnates in one way or the other. Apart from the Vatican, probably the grandest collection was those of the Farnese, which incorporated several earlier collections acquired by purchase—such as that of Raphael’s friend and patron Agostino Chigi, and that of the Sassi family—or by inheritance: in particular those housed in the Palazzo Medici-Madama acquired through
These grander collections were complemented by the smaller cabinets, often consisting chiefly of coins, small bronzes, some gems, some inscriptions that were popular among the less wealthy members of the Curia. The presence of such a considerable number of collectors, coupled to short-term visitors to Rome who were desirous of bringing home at least one or two souvenirs, provided a brisk market for all sort of antiquities, chiefly centring around the Campo de’ Fiori, but about which not much is known as yet. Demand was sufficiently ample to encourage even an industry in copies and, probably, outright fakes, though it is not always easy to decide in which category the many Renaissance imitations that have been preserved should be classified.98
Such collections often were the setting, or at least the subject of learned conversations among the humanists, conversations of which one can get some idea from Antonio Agustín’s Dialoghi intorno alle medaglie. An even better impression is provided in Stephanus Vinandus Pighius’ Themis Dea printed in Antwerp in 1578 [Figs. 3.86–3.87]. This short dialogue pretends to report a discussion that had taken place in about 1550 in the garden of Cardinal Carpi on the Monte Cavallo. Apart from the author himself, a Dutch antiquary who was at the time a member of the household of Marcello Cervini, the participants included Antonio Agustín, Jean Matal or Metellus, Agustín’s secretary and assistant, and Antoine Morillon, who was in the service of Cardinal Granvelle. Subject of the discussion is a female herm that Cardinal Carpi had recently added to his collection, which is interpreted in detail with the help of classical literary sources.99
Discussions such as that described by Pighius appear to have regularly taken place, and they often included not only erudite humanists, but also erudite artists, whose opinion was valued especially for the practical expertise they could contribute. This often concerned architectural questions, especially in the more or less informal sessions of the Vitruvian Academy as reported by the learned bishop Girolamo Garimberti, who mentions the painter Sebastiano del Piombo and the architects Jacopo Meleghino and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger among the discussants.100 Artists were prized as exact draughtsmen who could document the ancient relics in precise drawings, which greatly facilitated comparative research, and whose measured drawings of the ancient ruins were indispensable for any interpretations of their original appearance and function. Already about 1537 three leading members of the Academy, Marcello Cervini [Fig. 3.88], Bernardino Maffei and Alessandro Manzuoli, had, according to Vasari, commissioned the young Vignola ‘di misurare interamente tutte l’anticaglie di Roma’.101 Such studies, moreover, were of great importance for a better understanding of Vitruvius’ text, many passages of which were quite obscure, as Strada himself would underline in the preface of his edition of Serlio’s Settimo libro. Of course those artists whose education and interest enabled them to understand this scholarly function of the drawings they prepared were particularly prized. Such learned artists certainly were not discouraged to express their opinion on other antiquarian subjects: the best example is Pirro Ligorio, to whose impressive compilation of antiquarian material humanist scholars such as Agustín continuously had recourse, and whose help and suggestions were often gratefully acknowledged.102
It is not known whether Strada had kept up with any friends and professional connections he had made during his earlier sojourns in Rome. But even if he had not, his reception was guaranteed partly by his connection with Hans Jakob Fugger and partly by his own achievements. The Fugger firm had always maintained an important branch in Rome, and their participation in the cultural life of the Urbs is demonstrated by the chapel they dedicated in Santa Maria dell’ Anima, for which Hans Jakob’s grandfather Jakob had commissioned an altarpiece from Giulio Romano, and by the inclusion of a description of
Unfortunately it is not known what sponsors had supported Strada’s request, if any were deemed necessary. But from other sources we can gather some information about the people with whom Strada established and maintained contact during his residence in Rome. In some rather literary passages in the prefaces of the books he published Strada sung the praise of the Papal court as a centre or academy of scholarship and erudition, passages sufficiently interesting to paraphrase here. In his preface to Onofrio Panvinio’s Epitome pontificum Strada says, for instance:
In those days there were in Rome many noblemen, members of the Curia Romana and the Papal Household, and others, who were greatly interested in the history of the Popes, and to them Panvinio habitually referred any doubtful points or tricky questions he met with in his research. Chief
among these was that illustrious prelate, Alessandro Cardinal Farnese, whose splendid court cultivated outstanding talent in any field, and welcomed and stimulated outstanding votaries of all the fine arts and sciences. Apart from many noblemen of the oldest and purest lineage, one would also meet there theologians, philosophers, astronomers, mathematicians, historians, poets, doctors, lawyers, philologists, architects, engravers [‘sculptores’], painters, sculptors [‘statuarios’], antiquaries, gem-cutters, goldsmiths, and soldiers: in short, people proficient in all the useful and fine arts. Even I, unworthy, was desired by their common patron to join these remarkable men, which obviously did not displease me; for apart from his liberality towards me, he introduced me into this erudite academy, from which, besides great enjoyment, I derived no little profit.105
Elsewhere Strada specifically names Alessandro Farnese his patronus, but it is unlikely that Strada actually was in the Cardinal’s service. More probably he was made welcome to his collections, and was occasionally invited to participate in the discussions of the more or less informal academy meeting in the Palazzo Farnese.106 The latter option appears more likely also because Strada had brought his young family and had established an independent household which, apart from his personal servants, included at least one of the artists he employed.107 Strada was particularly interested in the history and customs of Ancient Rome, in so far as these could be reconstructed from its wreckage still floating about by the historians and antiquaries he met there: ‘Though these monuments be mute, they can instruct those who are well versed in Roman history’, he says in the preface to his edition of Panvinio’s Fasti et Triumphi, and then went on to heap laurels on the heads of a number of scholars he had met in the Palazzo Farnese:
There we find live oracles, who by both discussing the things that have come down to us, and by restoring in their learned commentaries what has been lost through the injuries of time, can give an exact interpretation of what once was, as anyone can witness who has heard discourse Antonio Agustín, Padre Ottavio [= Pantagato], Gentile Delfini, Achille
Maffei, Benedetto Egio, Gabriele Faerno and numerous others on many different subjects. All students of Antiquity have recourse to them, as to the temple of the Delphic Apollo, and hear them with great enthusiasm and attention, not dispersing without having obtained great profit from their conversation. Of incredible perfection is such wisdom and eloquence, when it is found in persons of sensitivity and refinement, and of spotless personal integrity.108
There are sufficient indications to show that Strada did indeed maintain personal contacts with a number of the members of this circle. He claims to have met Onufrio Panvinio [Fig. 3.90] in the Palazzo Farnese ‘where, to my great pleasure, I daily enjoyed the conversation of Onofrio Panvinio, whose great assiduity and precision in his research of past times I have always greatly admired’. These contacts are confirmed by the fact that Panvinio allowed Strada to publish a first version of his treatise on the Fasti Capitolini and also made available to him a copy of his manuscript history of the Popes. Strada’s edition of these two works, the Fasti et Triumphi and the Epitome Pontificum, would appear in 1557 with dedications to the Emperor Ferdinand I and his eldest son, Maximilian King of Bohemia, respectively.109 It appears, however, that Strada owned his good contacts with the rather shy and withdrawn Panvinio in particular to Antonio Agustín [Fig. 3.89] From Agustín’s correspondence with Panvinio it appears that it was the former who had drafted some sort of a contract between author and publisher: so if the suggestion that Strada print the book was not actually his, at least he strongly supported it.110
Strada’s contacts with Antonio Agustín appear to have been particularly close, and their intimacy was the obvious consequence of the interest in ancient numismatics they shared. By the middle of the sixteenth century the collecting of ancient coins had become so fashionable as to generate a lively community of dealers and peddlers, chiefly in the neighbourhood of the Campo de’ Fiori, and several collectors possessed quite impressive cabinets, though by the 1550’s none of these was as yet organized in a very systematic way: that was first to be realized by the splendid collection brought together by Fulvio Orsini, librarian of Alessandro Farnese.111 Strada spent a great deal of his time in inspecting these various coin-cabinets, whose contents he studied often in
From the people of whom Strada makes such honourable mention in his preface to Panvinio’ Fasti, Antonio Agustín, Gentile Delfini, Achille Maffei and Gabriele Faerno also turn up in this list, while only Benedetto Egio and Ottavio
The most important collection Strada studied, however, was that belonging to Antonio Agustín, which appears to have been Strada’s primary source, of even greater importance than his own collection. In the five volumes I have been able to study Strada mentions about sixty to seventy serious collectors, but Agustín’s medagliere alone is responsible for over a fifth of the coins described. Though it is well known that Agustín was one of the principal experts in the field, whose Dialogos de medallas, inscriciones y otras antiguedades of 1587 remains an important source for the history of numismatics in the Renaissance, very little is known about his collection.118 Strada’s descriptions are of signal importance in an attempt at reconstruction, a reconstruction that should be based on the holdings of the Royal Collection in Madrid, because King Philip ii inherited most of Agustín’s library and collections. Certainly it was of outstanding quality, if Strada so often preferred Agustìn’s exemplar of a given type to those preserved elsewhere. Yet it should be kept in mind that Strada’s exceptional dependence on Agustín’s collection does not necessarily mean that at the time of Strada’s visit it was unrivalled in Rome for quality and quantity of its contents. It rather indicates that Strada was accorded exceptional opportunity to repeatedly study and copy Agustín’s medals, and this suggests that the intimacy between auditor and antiquary was more intense than is suggested by the few references to Strada in Agustín’s published correspondence.
It is difficult to recreate their relationship exactly. Strada’s labour in Agustín’s cabinet will rarely have been accomplished in the actual presence of his host, whose responsibilities allowed him little time for his erudite pursuits. But Strada was not the only student to occupy himself with Agustín’s coins, and imperceptibly he must have learned a great deal from comparing notes and exchanging opinions with his fellow-guests. In Agustín’s few moments of leisure more formal discussions must have taken place, either in his own house or elsewhere, in which many of the learned men Strada claimed to have known in Rome habitually took part. Decades later the venerable Archbishop of Tarragona still cherished the memories of such evenings, which he attempted to recreate in the moments when he could relax from his ecclesiastical duties: the Dialoghi intorno alle medaglie describes the aged prelate instructing his young friends in the importance of ancient coins as historical sources, and teaching
<…> that without understanding Latin he [= Pirro Ligorio] could have written well about such things? A[gustín].: In the same way as do Humberto Golzio, Enea Vico, Iacopo Strada, and others, so that who reads their books would believe that they have seen and read all the Latin and Greek books that ever were written. They make use of the labour of others and being able to draw well with a brush, they wield a pen equally well.119
This passage, however, has not always been interpreted or translated correctly, and in any case should be taken with some grains of salt. However sceptical he may or may not have been, Agustín’s judgement did allow the quality and utility of the works of Ligorio, Vico, Goltzius and Strada: is it a coincidence that these can still be considered the four greatest of mid-Cinquecento antiquaries? Agustín obviously appreciated Strada’s drawings and his Epitome thesauri antiquitatum, if only for the high quality of its printing. As a most astute man of the world, he must have been impressed with the energy with which Strada attempted to get things done, and the ample means which—at least partly thanks to Fugger—he had at his disposal to realize his ambitions. These, rather than Strada’s erudition, must have been the motives which made him advise Panvinio to entrust the manuscripts of his books to Strada to have them printed, and it appears that he himself was instrumental in drawing up the contract. Even when Strada’s publications of these books resulted in a fiasco, Agustín did not intend to break off his relations with Strada merely to please Panvinio: when he visited the Imperial court in 1558 he sided with Strada in his controversy with the Imperial Historiographer Wolfgang Lazius, realizing that though the latter was a good and learned historian, he had an insufficient command of the intricacies of numismatics as a discipline.120
It cannot be doubted that Strada greatly profited from his contacts with Agustín, and though the project of his numismatic Corpus for Hans Jakob
The Codex Coburgensis has been plausibly interpreted as more or less coinciding with one of the items included in the programme of publication envisaged by the Vitruvian Academy in Rome, strongly supported by Marcello Cervini, which has been briefly outlined above. Though no direct contacts between Strada and this Accademia del Virtù are documented, Strada was in touch with many of its individual members. It is difficult to imagine, however, that a former pupil of Giulio Romano, who arrived in Rome carrying all of Sebastiano Serlio’s drawings and manuscripts—including those by Peruzzi and others that Serlio had brought together in the course of his long life, apart from much graphic material recently published in France—and who himself was an enthusiastic student of architecture and of Antiquity, would not have
3.8 Commissions and Purchases: The Genesis of Strada’s Musaeum
With his erudite research and his other enterprises, Strada was very strenuously occupied during the two years of his residence in Rome. Unfortunately it is difficult to establish in how far Strada’s activities were related to specific commissions from Fugger, and in how far he acted on his own initiative and in his own immediate interest. It is clear that no exclusive relationship to any patron in Rome was established, and it is rather likely that Strada maintained himself, his family and the other members of his retinue at least in part from the income deriving from Fugger’s commissions. In the preface to his 1575 edition of Caesar he described his trip to Rome as an explicit initiative of his patron, who had charged him to ‘to acquire gold, silver and bronze coins and marbles of remarkable antiquity, which I at great expense had brought to Augsburg’.123 This suggests that Strada’s principal object was the acquisition of antiquities for Fugger’s growing collection: when Strada frequented the shops of various antiquarians and peddlers he doubtless did not limit himself to studying their coins in order to complete his numismatic Corpus, but also selected those objects with which he thought best to enrich Fugger’s studio. He also purchased antique statuary on Fugger’s behalf, of which very little is known: Strada emphasises the busts of Emperor’s and Empresses, which accords well with his patron’s historical interest, and such busts were a most suitable type of decoration of the library in which Fugger’s collection was collocated. But Strada’s
We do know, however, much more about another aspect of Fugger’s commission: the acquisition of visual documentation of the relics of Antiquity, as well as of the most splendid achievements of the art of the Renaissance. Strada’s numismatic corpus, the Magnum ac novum opus preserved in Gotha, is the principal relic of his work for Fugger in this field; it has been discussed and illustrated above [Figs. 3.22–3.33]. This project was begun before Strada’s departure from Nuremberg—its title-page bears the date 1550—but Strada continued working on it for many years. Possibly Strada still added to it on behalf of Duke Albrecht v of Bavaria, who acquired the series together with the rest of Fugger’s library and collection in 1566. While in Rome he continued working on the project, probably immediately having converted the sketches of the coins he had studied during the day into the fair drawings to be included in the Corpus. Possibly he was occasionally allowed to send his draughtsmen into the collections he frequented, or to carry home some of their holdings for a few days. One of these draughtsmen, Giovanni Battista Armenini, years later recorded his work for Strada, in whose house he lived for some time:
<…> and I copied for him [says Armenini] certain antique bronze and golden medaillons, in watercolours, the size of a palmo each; which portraits, with [images of] their reverses, he then sent to the Fuggers, very rich merchants of Antwerp, a most powerful city of Flanders, after he had bound them into most beautiful books.125
This description perfectly fits the corpus of drawings in Gotha already discussed and illustrated above. But Strada employed draughtsman such as Armenini also in other projects: from another passage in Armenini’s De’ veri precetti della pittura [Fig. 3.91] we know that, though Armenini possibly was the only artist lodging with Strada, he certainly was not the only one to be employed by him. The execution of the numismatic drawings for Hans Jakob Fugger was, moreover, only one of the tasks allotted to them. Following an admiring description of Raphael’s Vatican Loggia, Armenini reports how
<…> every part of this ensemble, including its tiled floor, was drawn on paper and coloured in the miniature technique, in the proper way, by the hand of the most talented young artists in Rome in my time, and of which I myself was one; once thus coloured it was then sent by the man who had commissioned it, and paid royally for it, to Antwerp, to a great lord of the Fugger family, who, it was said, took great delight in it. And for that agent I mean, another copy was made which, after not much time,
he himself took to Spain to the great court of King Philip, with an infinite number of other drawings which he bought all the time, and were commissioned from us to draw for him plans, temples, medals [= coins], arches, columns, statues and other ancient objects that have been found throughout that city in the course of time, and those however that were among the most notable, and were of greater quality than the others.126
In view of Armenini’s inaccuracies, and the provenance from Ambras of the series of drawings of the Vatican Loggia which has been preserved in the Nationalbibliothek in Vienna, one cannot be sure that all these ‘dissegni infiniti’ were in fact among Fugger’s commissions. In any case Strada kept a set of the Loggia
Apart from Armenini, only one of the ‘più valenti giovani’ mentioned by Armenini can be identified with some degree of certainty. This is Giovanni Antonio Dosio, who noted in an album of drawings of antique cinerary urns which ones he had copied out on behalf of Strada.129 Strada’s compatriot
The anonymous draughtsmen of the Codex Coburgensis likewise may have been among the artists Strada employed at this time: his manner suggested a Mantuan origin to Richard Harprath; his use of clearly distinguished parallel hatchings is reflected in the title-pages of some of Strada’s later manuscripts [Figs. 3.94–3.95, cf. Figs. 3.22–3.23].131 The preparation of such material for Strada and for other visitors to what in fact was a burgeoning tourist attraction must have been quite a welcome source of income for young artists embarking on their career by studying Roman antiquities and the canonical works of the great masters of Renaissance Rome.
Strada’s acquisitions doubtless also included many drawings (probably also prints) which he could buy ready-made from draughtsmen, engravers and booksellers specializing in this trade, or which he found occasion to purchase from other collectors tempted by the generous prices Strada appears to have offered.132 Chief among such occasional purchases was his acquisition of all the
<…> before I left [Rome], I went to visit Madonna Catharina, who had been the wife of Perino del Vaga, court painter of the Pope, in his time the foremost artist in Rome and when alive a great friend of mine. Discussing with her the materials of her late husband, I found that she was disposed to sell all his drawings rather to me, than to whomsoever else she knew, not wishing that such [splendid] efforts would remain in Rome, and that others would abuse them to increase their own glory. Thus I could buy from her two chests [full] of drawings all by hand, among which were all the works he himself ever made, and also many by Raffaello d’Urbino, who had been his master. Among these drawings I found a very great quantity of architecture, both [of projects] in Rome, and [of projects] in France and in other places in Italy.133
Obviously proud of his Musaeum—as such he indicated the collection housed in his splendid mansion in Vienna—Strada might easily have overestimated the importance of his acquisitions. Therefore it is fortunate that his enthusiastic account is again corroborated by a passage in Giovanni Battista Armenini’s De veri precetti della pittura. He relates that when he was living in Strada’s house as one of the young draughtsmen employed in his projects, he had been able to study the drawings from Perino’s estate at leisure:
Among so many others [I have seen] I well remember the many drawings left by Perino at his death, which, when I was in Rome, were all bought, and by one of his daughters sold, for a price of fifty gold scudi, which were paid out in my presence, in the year 1556, by a merchant from Mantua with whom I was living at the time <…> and for that reason, apart from
that first time, I have seen them many times, because he gladly gave me that opportunity <…>.134
At first sight Strada’s purchase of Perino’s drawings might appear to have been motivated by his making use of a chance opportunity, or by sentimental considerations—Strada had known Perino when he was young, and calls him his old friend—or even merely by the wish of helping out Perino’s widow. But in view of Strada’s similar acquisition of Serlio’s Nachlass at Lyon a year earlier it seems to fit into a more deliberate programme of acquisition. This supposition is strengthened by Strada’s acquisition, in his hometown Mantua, which he visited on his way back to Germany, of all the graphic material left by his former master, Giulio Romano. Again he relates this affair in the preface to his edition of Serlio’s Settimo Libro:
Now departing from Rome to return to Germany, I passed through Mantua, and went to renew my acquaintance with Raffaello, the son of Giulio Romano; who having been left richly provided by his father, little delighted in the visual arts, but was rather inclined toward amorous relationships and having a good time. And for that reason, apart from what his father had left him, he had little that was worthwhile, because he was not able to exercise the art of design and lacked judgment in architecture, nor was he able to avail himself of the designs of the other things his father had left him; whereas had he remained poor, necessity would have forced him to follow the profession of such a great man as was his father. So it was not difficult for me to get hold of all the drawings that had belonged to his father, that had been left to him; wherein were found together the most beautiful designs of Raffael d’Urbino, who had been his master; and moreover those in his own hand; and in particular in the field of architecture, both ancient and modern. And when we had agreed on the price, I paid him <…>.135
Both Perino’s and Giulio’s collections incorporated, apart from their own work, sets of designs by or after other masters with whom they had worked in their career, in particular by Raphael, whose star pupils and heirs they had been, together with Giovan Francesco Penni, whose portion also had ended up in Perino’s hand through his wife, Penni’s sister Caterina. Armenini relates that
I saw in his own hand a large part of the works painted by Raphael, who had been his master, which were drawn in black chalk, as were some of the nude figures from [Michelangelo’s Last] Judgment, which drawings were in such a manner reduced to his [Perino’s] own sweet manner, that you could say that they were rather born from, or invented by him, rather than copied after the works of others <…> here were moreover many sketches taken from prints, which were designed by Italians and by Germans, just as there were an infinite number of [drawings after] funerary steles, wall coverings, statues, grotesque ornaments, all derived from the Antique, with other similar things which are scattered and often hidden throughout Rome, but which we were aware of [and therefore did recognize in Perino’s drawings]; and he in copying these, he nevertheless would change now one thing, then another, and those that were damaged or not very attractive, he would add, or remove, or enrich them, in short, he would change them to such an extent, with his graceful manner, that it was difficult even for experienced observers to see where he had unearthed them [= found his examples].136
Vasari described Giulio Romano’s collection of drawings, which included not only a huge cupboard containing
<…> all the plans of all the buildings that had been made after his designs and instruction, not only in Mantua and in Rome, but everywhere in Lombardy <…>
<…> all the plans of antique buildings of Rome, of Naples, of Pozzuoli, of Campania, and of all the other principal remains of Antiquity that are known, drawn in part by himself, in part by others.137
So in both cases these collections not merely represented the work of a few individual artists and their workshops, but documented the work and the interests of an entire artistic milieu—basically that of Rome in the first half of
This programme may have been inspired and partly financed by Hans Jakob Fugger: such material provided the visual complement to the written documentation present in his library. Yet it is likely that Strada also collected material for himself. Whereas at least part of the documentation he specially commissioned, such as the drawings of the Vatican Loggia, was destined for his patron, there is evidence that he kept the original material acquired respectively from Serlio, Perino’s widow, and Giulio Romano’s son, for himself.138 And it seems likely that he kept copies for himself even of the documentation he commissioned for Fugger or for other patrons. In this way his travels allowed him to lay the foundations for the collection he proudly indicated with the term Musaeum, and which can be considered to anticipate on a more modest scale the famous Musaeum chartaceum brought together in the first half of the seventeenth century by Cassiano dal Pozzo. An attempt to identify at least some of the contents of Strada’s graphic collection will be made in Chapter 13; its function in relation to Strada’s professional activities will be a recurrent theme in the rest of this book.
3.9 Departure from Rome
Though Strada’s acquisition of these materials accorded with Fugger’s ideas, it is not likely that all of them were made on his account. It is clear that Strada did not regard himself as indissolubly bound to Fugger, because he also offered his numismatic drawings to other patrons. The Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris owns a beautiful manuscript presenting pre-imperial coinage in a make-up identical to the volumes commissioned by Fugger; its elegant titlepage indicates that it was made in Rome in 1554, though its intended recipient remains
All the same it appears very unlikely that Strada ever acted on such considerations. But he did claim that he succeeded in obtaining the patronage of Pope Julius iii himself:
<…> when I found myself in Rome, not many months passed, before I was called into the service of Pope Julius iii Monti, who lived at that time. But it lasted only a few months, because His Holiness died. But Marcello
Cervini succeeding him, and hearing that I intended to return to Germany, made me reaffirm my service. But he as well passing into a better world in a short time, I decided to leave <…>141
I have found no confirmation of these claims, and we have no inkling what kind of service Strada would have been expected to render Julius iii. Cervini’s close involvement in the antiquarian scholarship of the Vitruvian Academy promised opportunities of employment, but his death after a pontificate of hardly three weeks, and the consecutive election of the puritan Gian Pietro Carafa, as Pope Paul iv, shattered any illusions Strada may have had about a career in Rome.
So he decided to pack up his trunks again and to move back to Nuremberg with his household, which by now consisted of himself, his wife and at least two young children, perhaps one or more assistants and doubtless one or two servants. Apart from personal luggage he carried with him his acquisitions on behalf of Fugger—which included a quantity of antique marbles—and the accretions to his own collection, including the work he and his assistants had done in Rome. The road to Germany, across the Brenner, brought him to Mantua, and he must have been quite happy to have the opportunity to visit his native city, to meet his family perhaps for the first time in many years, to present his wife to them, and to show her and his children the splendour of what was, after all, their fatherland. Doubtless he went to pay his respects to the young Duke, Guglielmo Gonzaga, and his guardian and at the time regent of the Duchy, Cardinal Ercole. His documented visit to Raffaello Pippi, son and heir of Giulio Romano, from whom he acquired his father’s drawings, has already been discussed. But probably Strada also renewed contacts with many old friends and colleagues. These included his exact contemporary, Giovanni Battista Bertani, who had succeeded Giulio Romano as first architect to the Gonzaga, and who shared Strada’s antiquarian enthusiasm; and the engraver Giovan Battista Scultori, who appears to have been interested in ancient coins, since in the Διασκευέ Strada described a few coins that he had seen in Scultori’s collection. These contacts would be useful later in his career: both Bertani and Scultori were employed by Strada in the late 1560s.
It is not known when exactly Strada left Rome, when he arrived in Mantua, and when he finally arrived back in Nuremberg: winding up his affairs in Rome after the sudden death of Marcellus ii in May 1555 must have taken some time, and the trip to Mantua may have been a leisurely one: unless travelling by sea as far as Genoa, it can be assumed that the company travelled via Florence and
Strada’s departure from Rome can be considered as a turning point in his career. His reference to his hopes of employment by the Pope indicates that he had not yet definitely decided what his career was to be, and where he hoped to realize his ambitions. But he had finally completed the foundation upon which it could be built: after his early education in Mantua, he had enriched his formal knowledge by his contacts with humanists in Italy, Germany and France and by means of his studies in the cabinets of many learned collectors had acquired a specialized competence in ancient numismatics, one of the principal branches of antiquarian studies. His contacts with Hans Jakob Fugger had been of particular significance: Fugger had provided him with the
Strada’s travels had also equipped him with an up to date expertise in the visual arts of Italy, at the time the trendsetter in Europe, and he had built up an extraordinary collection of visual documentation both of ancient and contemporary art that would enable him to pass on this expertise to both patrons and artists that visited his studio. His collection or ‘Musaeum’ would moreover serve as a stock of inventions drawn upon for the materials that were produced in his workshop on behalf of his patrons: chiefly Hans Jakob Fugger, Duke Albrecht v of Bavaria and the Emperors Ferdinand i and Maximilian ii. Probably the network of personal acquaintances and correspondents he had created included many others—fellow merchants, booksellers, bankers—that would come in useful for the commercial aspects of his activities.