Artist: FONTANA, Giovanni Battista.Engraved by CUSTOS, Custos.
Franciscus von Castellalt
Magnificent engraving from a later edition of the first illustrated museum catalogue ever printed. The Roman Catholic Archduke Ferdinand II of Tirol (1529-1595) was an avid collector of weaponry and armoury, which had originally belonged to all sorts of princes and potentates. In order to document his interest in history he created the pictorial programme of the so-called “Spanish Hall” and a collection of over 1000 portraits of European noblemen and women. He assigned his personal secretary Jacob Schrenck von Notzing to write a catalogue of the collection of armory (Heldenrüstkammer) housed at Schloss Ambras near Innsbruck which finally was brought to print in 1601. The magnificent catalogue (known as Armamentarium heroicum) shows very rare examples of armours from the 15th and 16th centuries which originally belonged to illustrious persons such as the Emperor Maximilian I or Prince Maurice of Orange. The objects themselves were displayed in Ambras castle in a strict hierarchic order. In 1582 the Antwerp born Augsburg engraver and publisher Dominicus Custos (1550/59-1615) started to engrave the in all 126 portraits after the drawings of Giovanni Battista Fontana (1541-1587). The book was designed so that a full-length portrait engraving of the armour’s former owner faced a page containing the biography of the figure shown, which accompanies the engraving. The noble figures are all in full armour and standing in niches with elaborate surroundings of ornamental columns.
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Copper engraving. Hand coloured. Fine condition. Size: 30 x 43 cm. (12 x 17 inches)