Blog 116 A Literary World: 10/07/2023 Martin Engelbrecht: A Collection of Artists, Craftsmen, and Professions Clothed with Their Own Products and Tools
Blog 116 A Literary World: 10/07/2023 Martin Engelbrecht
A Collection of Artists, Craftsmen, and Professions Clothed with Their Own Products and Tools
Martin Engelbrecht (16 September 1684 – 18 January 1756,) was a German Baroque engraver and publisher who lived in Augsburg, Germany. Both he and his brother, Christian, were printmakers and engravers. Martin engraved plates influenced by Johann Moritz Rugendas and other notable masters of the period. Rugendas was a German painter, famous in the first half of the 19th century for his works depicting landscapes and ethnographic subjects in several countries in the Americas. He was also from Augsburg and is considered to be “by far the most varied and important of the European artists to visit Latin America”.
Engelbrecht’s many works include illustrations for Ovid’s Metamorphoses, The War of Spanish Succession, and P. Decker’s Les Architectes Princiers, as well as other views, including views of Venice.
One form of entertainment in the early 18th-century featured paper peep-shows for leisure entertainment. Travelling peep-shows were already in existence, but these new peep-shows were miniature theatres, designed specifically to be enjoyed in the privacy of one’s home. They comprised a series of backdrops, and artist, Engelbrecht, is credited with their creation in 1730. He created miniature cards which, when inserted into a display box, showed religious scenes or pictures of daily life with a 3D perspective view. An entire series was devoted to the Italian theatre.
Engelbrecht also composed and etched a series of copperplate prints of workers and their dress, Assemblage Nouveau Des Manouvries Habilles, [New Collection of Artists, Craftsmen and Professions Clothed with Their Own Products and Tools] published at Augsburg, circa 1730. His hand-coloured engravings of tradespeople and sportsmen, accompanied by an explanatory text or poems, are allegorical and document the era well. Some of the tradespeople are dressed by cleverly assembling respective trade objects that resemble clothing. The titles on each card are in French and German.
Harte Müh und saure Garten Arbeit [Garden Work — Planting] and Blumen [Garden Work — Flowers] are examples of a pair of allegorical prints showing spring planting and summer blooming. The garden and its flowers and fruits relate to hard work and its rewards. A Biblical verse in the upper right corner and a poem below deliver the life lessons illustrated by each picture.
Harte Müh und saure Garten Arbeit show a man and woman working within a walled garden, the man turning over earth with a shovel, the woman on her knees setting plants. In the background, an elegantly dressed couple, presumably the owners of the estate, stroll through the gate. In the upper right corner are the first two lines of Genesis 3:19, the Biblical verse in which Adam is commanded to work the earth: “By the sweat of your brow shall you get bread to eat.” Below is a poem commenting on that verse that concludes, “Only by labor and perseverance God lets one’s blessing blossom.”
Blumen shows a cheerful man carrying a decorative Baroque urn containing a flowering plant past rosebushes; in the background four people enjoy a walled formal garden. In the upper right corner are two lines from Song of Songs 2:11-12, “For now the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The blossoms have appeared in the land.” Beneath it, the poem describes the flowers that embroider the green earth, bring joy, and “surprise August and the heart” with their fragrance, with a reminder that such blooms are nevertheless fleeting.
The following are just a few of this collection which can be found in various museums.
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