“ He never rode off any Field except as Victor ”
The Great Marlborough
The Copy of the von Roemer Collection
Rugendas I, Georg Philipp (1666 Augsburg 1742). Serenissimus Princeps, Iohannes, S. R. I. Princeps Mindelheimensis, Dux et Comes de Marlborough, Marchio de Blanfort, Baro de Churchille, de Aymond et Sandridge, Ordinis Periscelidis, etc.
John Churchill Duke of Marlborough
as , together with Prince Eugene , victor of Blenheim/Höchstedt ,
who “gave the Spanish War of Succession a decisive turn”.
Here with the marshal’s baton in the stretched out right and the sword at the left galloping to the left in meagre landscape. On the lateral left in the middle distance little fighting horsemen accessories, even more in the background building. Mezzotint. (1713/14.) Inscribed: Georg Philipp Rugendas inv. et fec. Aug. V. otherwise as above. 18½ × 14¼ in (46.9 × 36.2 cm).
Teuscher 58; Stillfried 282; Nagler 10. – Pen-and-ink drawing with wash in the same direction, 16⅞ × 14⅝ in (428 × 370 mm), in the Witt Collection of the Courtauld Institute Galleries in London.
Qualified by provenance of the portrait collection of von Roemer father & son originating in the early 19th century which in 1871 devolved upon today’s Museum of Fine Arts Leipsic and was sold by this in 1924 obviously entirely (not only the duplicates as Lugt notes; see auction sale Boerner 142). Recto lower right its collection stamp “(Municipal Museum at Leipsic)” (Lugt 1669e), on the back the removal stamp “(Disposed by Museum of Fine Arts Leipsic)” (L. 1669f).
Trimmed close to the platemark, in places on this itself and on the right on 3.5 cm on the edge of the subject. – Mounted by old on laid paper whose margins have been laminated on the front frame-like with grey-bluish paper. The image itself braid with black surrounding line.
Very fine, highly nuanced impression of rich chiaroscuro and adequate preservation to the grand
set of the princes on horseback
on galloping white horses with the marshal’s baton in the right
by the great Rugendas himself. Complete here not provable in literature anymore Andrea Teuscher states per no. 56 “c. 8 ll.” though she can describe six only (53-58). For the one she carries as 59 as “additional leaf” belongs neither stylistically nor in regard of size and caption to the set, would even be a repetition of the set-conforming portrait of Eugene here. Insofar she follows Stillfried’s error who incorporated it per 281 into the set not knowing it as Nagler neither. Also her quotation of Boerner there is unfounded as equally referring to 55 and regarding St. 281 (T. 59/Nagler 8) as reproduction. See on all this no. 16,218 here.
In fact, too, the original set should be complete with the six leaves T. 53-58 as it – obviously as the one and only copy! – figured in the aforesaid Boerner sale “Collection of Engravings by Old Masters of the XVth-XVIIIth Century” as lot 1670 as follows :
“ The beautiful , large equestrian portraits
in marvelous , even , fresh impressions …
All mounted by old on blue cardboard . ”
Ergo the in the meantime dissolved copy von Roemer from the Leipsic Museum to which positions 16,217 + 16,218 here, T. 55 + 58, belonged. With here
at present no complete copy being known to literature .
For its proof by Teuscher is now cut into pieces in the light of the above appendix here. And both the further copies in Coburg + Dresden called in there miss that of the Duke of Marlborough here (T. 58), temporary Prince of Mindelheim.
Five each only Nagler described as individual plates and Count Stillfried possessed resp. Both note instead of the true Eugene its reproduction only (N. 8). Thus it should be one and the same copy which Nagler as antiquarian left to his customer. In Augsburg by the way with T. 54 one single leaf of the set only!
That this should be appended by Nagler 7 “Charles XII mounted on horseback with the sword in his hand as he drives the enemies ahead, one of the chief works of the master” as remained unknown to Teuscher seems to be unlikely by stylistic regards though, analogous to T. 53-58 (but not to T. 59!), also described by Nagler as “large folio”. For none of the six confirmed leaves of the set shows a general in contact with the enemy as mentioned for Charles XII as their contemporary. The latter then by the way as the one and only of these large prince leaves among the about 27,600 lots of parts I-XXVIII of Weigel’s Art Stock Catalog (1838/57). Not one concerning T. 53-58! Their, and thereby of the one here, too,
rarity thus simply superb !
And this not only because of special circumstances on the market but generally. Already in 1675 the expert von Sandrart numbered “clean prints” of the velvety mezzotint manner at only c. “50 or 60” (!). “Soon after (the picture) grinds off for it not goes deeply into the copper.” Correspondingly Thienemann in 1856 by the example of Ridinger :
“ The mezzotints are almost not to be acquired on the market anymore …
and the by far largest part (of them) … (I have) only found (in the printroom) at Dresden. ”
Not even there then the elder’s Georg Philipp large set of the “Princes on Horseback” as a whole, to which later the equal-named son let follow a yet with 13⅜ × 8⅝ in (34 × 22 cm) markedly smaller one of his own of which Teuscher knows five leaves (429-433) with which T. 59 also not harmonizes. For the time of origin of the large ones by the father T. 53 sees as terminus post quem 1713 as only in that year his Frederick William (I) succeeded as king of Prussia. Since on the other hand Marlborough here still figures as Princeps Mindelheimensis what became obsolete in 1714 the origin may be seen accordingly narrow.
While Nagler (1845) does not regard Rugendas as a “great Master in mezzotint” whose “compositions (were) designed full of life and always with genius though” – their first states should carry his “inv. et fec.” as here (later addresses not known here in this connection) or the address of Jeremias Wolff – Gode Krämer (1998) stresses the
“ technique of mezzotint masterly commanded by him ”
and qualifies him as “a that excellent etcher and mezzotint artist” who “in regard of Augsburg early made the mezzotint his own and introduced a new variant with the combination of the techniques of mezzotint and etching by the outline etching” (in Björn R. Kommer, ed., Rugendas / Eine Künstlerfamilie in Wandel und Tradition / Catalogue to the exhibition 1998, pp. 8 f.).
The theme of the plate here though is for no one less than
the “ famous British general and statesman
JOHN CHURCHILL DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH ” ,
the great ally of Prince Eugene
– “ who converted him to a book-collector .
He is the founder of Blenheim Library ” –
against France whom after proscribing the Bavarian elector the emperor enfeoffed with the dominion Mindelheim concurrently raised to principality in 1706, which he nevertheless lost in the Peace of Rastatt of 1714 (not already 1713 in that one of Utrecht made between the allies and France only) without compensation.
“ He commanded the armies of Europe against France for ten campaigns. He fought four great battles and many important actions. It is the common boast of his champions that he never fought a battle that he did not win, nor besieged a fortress he did not take. Amid all the baffling chances and incidents of war he produced victory with almost mechanical certainty. Even when fighting in fetters and hobbles, swayed and oppressed by influences which were wholly outside the military situation, he was able to produce the same result, varying only in degree. Nothing like this can be seen in military annals. His smaller campaigns were equally crowned by fortune. He never rode off any field except as victor. He quitted war invincible … Successive generations have not ceased to name him with Hannibal and Cæsar.
Until the advent of Napoleon no commander wielded such widespread power in Europe … He was the head of the most glorious Administration in … the history (of England) when he led Europe, saved the Austrian Empire, and broke irretrievably the exorbitant power of France …
The wars of William and Anne were no mere effort of national ambition or territorial gain. They were in essentials a struggle for the life and liberty not only of England, but of Protestant Europe … The triumph of the France of Louis XIV would have warped and restricted the development of the freedom we now enjoy …
The ten years of war, with their hazards, their puzzles, their ordeals, their temptations, only strengthened
a brotherhood in arms with Prince Eugene,
unmatched between captains of equal fame … ”
(Winston S. Churchill, Marlborough, His Life and Times [Chicago 2002], vol. I, pp. 15-17).
“ M. was an equally dexterous diplomat … as a brilliant general who combined personal courage with a sure and fast look that spotted every mistake of the enemy and knew to use. His dark sides were immoderate ambition and low greediness ”
(Meyers Konversations-Lexikon 4th ed. XI , 263 ff. and, on Mindelheim, 644).
The latter thus played a central background role in Eugène Scribe’s (1791-1861) A Glass of Water, unforgettable by Helmuth Käutner’s screen adaptation with Gustaf Gründgens + Hilde Krahl (Lady Churchill) as antagonists in the leading rôles. Here, however, flawless, as one
of Rugendas’ noble six “ Princes on Horseback ” ,
as an equestrian portrait whose
confirms whereupon the elder Georg Philipp Rugendas was “a first rate talent beyond doubt, for not to say a genius. Doubtless, set into better circumstances, e.g. living in the Netherlands about 1650, he would have become an artist who
would have surpassed all his horse and battle competitors ”
(Wilhelm Schmidt 1889 in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, XXIX, 600).
Offer no. 16,217 / price on application
please see the pendant Prince Eugene of Savoy , too
„ vielen Dank für die prompte Lieferung! … Nach diesem Kupferstich (Hogarth, Sleeping Congregation) habe ich übrigens ziemlich lang gesucht – offenbar immer an der falschen Stelle – und bin jetzt außerordenlich froh, ein so unversehrtes Exemplar zu besitzen … Herzlichen Dank noch mal und freundliche Grüße “
(Herr C. K., 28. Juni 2012)