Text, Drawing & Print: A Portrait of Joachim von Sandrart

Together with fellow artist historians Geogio Vasari and Karel van Mander, the works of Joachim von Sandrart I (1606–1688) helped lay the foundation for the art historical philosophies in the Western tradition. Unlike Vasari’s Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori  (1550) and van Mander’s Het schilder-boeck (1604), Sandrart’s dictionary of art and compilation of artist biographies, the Teutsche Academie (1675-1679), differs from its predecessors in that it is sumptuously illustrated and of practical appeal.[1]

The scope of Sandrart’s publication exceeded all previous examples of art historiography, but also includes some curious interludes such as translations from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a reference to the beer produced on his wife’s family estate in Stockau, Germany, and a lengthy autobiography.


The Ephesian Artemis
The Ephesian Artemis from the Teutsche Academie (image from BibliOdessey blog; Melbourne UL copy currently on exhibit).


The red chalk drawing of Sandrart in the Baillieu Library Print Collection, which had no previous artist attribution, was identified just last year by Sandrart expert, Assistant Professor Susanne Meurer (University of Western Australia), as a self-portrait.[2] Below the drawing is an inscription written in his hand, similar in appearance to those inscriptions which appear below printed portraits. Although he was widely travelled, as the inscription indicates, Sandrart identified himself as being from Stockau, which dates the drawing to after the time of his marriage in 1637.


Sandrart self portrait in red chalk.
Sandrart self portrait in red chalk.


This drawing parallels his painted self-portrait of 1641, which likewise depicts the same bust in the background.  A close match to the drawing appears in Dr Johann Jacob Volkmann’s ‘improved’ edition of the Teutsche Academie, which portrays Sandrart’s dignified mien, along with his inscription, in the full clarity of a print.[3]

Sandrart’s output of paintings and drawings is substantial, but while he oversaw the production of many prints, he produced few of his own. In the Baillieu’s impression of Sandrart’s Cupid pissing (1640), the wretch holding a urinal for Cupid has been described as both an old man and an old woman.


'Cupid Pissing' (1640); etching
‘Cupid Pissing’ (1640); etching


Often Cupid is depicted with Venus, his mythological mother, or another strong and beautiful woman. Sandrart’s intention seems to be ambiguous or subversive rather than erotic, although it may also have been an applied one, as the composition is reminiscent of models in an artist’s studio. The grid overlaid on the print suggests that it was copied and used as a primary source. The entry for the print in the Hollstein catalogue records three separate copies have been made after the print.[4]

These works of art provide insights into the discipline of art history and that of Sandrart’s working methods and his character. The Baillieu’s copy of the Teutsche Academie, its important chalk drawing and the overlaid print, all contribute to the construction of an intriguing portrait of Joachim von Sandrart.

Kerrianne Stone (Special Collections Curatorial Assistant (Prints))


[1] Baillieu Library Special Collections holds early editions of all three works: the 1550 first edition Vasari; a 1618 edition of van Mander; and the first edition of Sandrart’s Teutsche Academie (1675–79, four volumes bound in two)

[2] For more on Meurer’s prior research into Sandrart, see her article “‘In Verlegung de Autoris’: Joachim von Sandrart and the Seventeenth-Century Book Market” in The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society 7:4 (Dec. 2006): 419-449

[3] Special Collections does not hold a copy of the Volkmann edition of Sandrart’s Teutsche Academie. The printed portrait, however, is reproduced in Princeton University’s Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology blog post “The ‘German Vasari’?” (accessed 7 April 2014)

[4] F. W. H. Hollstein, German engravings, etchings, and woodcuts, ca. 1400-1700 (Amsterdam: M. Hertzberger, 1954-), 40:16

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