niemeyer’s continues his historical quarter
Here then the
300th Anniversary of Blenheim
The Victors of August 13
Prince Eugene of Savoy & the Duke of Marlborough
who “gave the Spanish War of Succession – a European affair of degree –
a decisive turn”,
after early in 1704
Archduke Charles of Austria
had substantiated its claim to the Spanish empire
by his landing on the Iberian Peninsula.
After all Charles II of Spain, endeavoring to die without issue, belonged to the Habsburg dynasty. The latter, however, would become too dominating as well for the naval powers England/Northern Netherlands as France if the Spanish monarchy would come into its possession. For which Vienna showed understanding. Each and all anyway closely related and affiliated Hereditary Joseph Ferdinand of Bavaria, grandson of Emperor Leopold I and his Spanish spouse, volunteered as heir. However, the young killjoy died (1699) before the succession (1700). Still before the latter early in the year William III of England, last representative of the “elder famous line of the House of Orange, whose possessions fell to Prussia”, Louis XIV of France and just Charles II of Spain had come to an understanding on Louis’ grandson Philipp, the Duke of Anjou. An arrangement which went without imperial blessing. In the end, however, it proved right under conditions and after 13 years of campaigns finally enthroned the grandchild as Philipp V of Spain in 1714. What Le Roi Soleil could have seen far earlier, had he not dreamt too obviously greedy of a French-Spanish alliance of powers and a blockade of South American and West Indian harbors for the naval powers England and Holland. What the latter made coalition partners of the emperor. Against France and Bavaria allied with this. And both sides set out great strategists, but the coalition with Prince Eugene and John Churchill first Duke of Marlborough the better, downright more ingenious ones. Who did not hesitate, after French marshal Villars had routed the imperial army under count Styrum near Höchstedt on September 20, 1703, and Augsburg had fallen December 13, to inflict, after the Bavarians (Jul. 2, 1704, at the Schellenberg near Donauwörth) now on the French
on the 13th of August 1704 near Blenheim / Höchstedt
the defeat of their sun kingdom :
“ … throwing open the door of the barn and the curtains of his master’s bed, (the servant) revealed a brilliant and astounding spectacle. The wide plain, bathed in the morning sunlight, was covered with hostile squadrons and battalions, already close at hand and steadily marching on. But behind this magnificent array, if the count (of Mérode Westerloo) could have discerned them, were the shapes of great causes and the destinies of many powerful nations. Europe protested against the military domination of a single Power. The Holy Roman Empire pleaded for another century of life. The ancient rights of the Papacy against Gallicanism and the ascendancy of a Universal over a National church – despite the mistaken partisanship of the reigning Pope – were, in fact, fatefully at stake. The Dutch Republic sought to preserve its independence, and Prussia its kingdom rank. And from across the seas in England the Protestant succession, Parliamentary government, and the future of the British Empire advanced with confident tread. All these had brought their cases before the dread tribunal now set up in this Danube plain ”
(Winston Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times [Chicago 2002] vol. I, p. 843 f.).
“ That was the sensation ”
(Roswin Finkenzeller in anticipation of the exhibition in Höchstedt – till November 7 – on Jul. 1, 04, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung). Forced especially thanks to
“ Marlborough’s revolutionary tactical concept ;
( thrust into the center of the enemy’s formation )
at Höchstedt he applied it for the first time ,
with disastrous success …
For nearly forty years no French regiment endeavored the march on Vienna ”
(Andreas Kilb in review of the Höchstedt exhibition Jul. 22, 04, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).
With the result that in 1706 the emperor raised the great ally to a German Imperial Prince and bestowed “him with the principality Mindelheim formed from confiscated Bavarian possessions” which he lost again without compensation in the peace of Rastatt in 1714 (not already in the one of Utrecht of 1713 between the allies and France only) though. Already in 1702 the fatherland, however, had made him to be Marquis of Blandford + Duke of Marlborough, for Blenheim (today Blindheim, Höchstedt for Germany) though the parliament granted him the domain Woodstock “and the queen (Anne) ordered to build him Blenheim Castle there”, a 19-years, for the Duke lifelong venture.
“ 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. But anyhow: tied to him congenially and in friendship, not lesser great as bibliophile, Eugene
“ converted him to a book-collector , too .
He is the founder of Blenheim Library ”
No doubt, such characters could not but fascinate a man like the elder
GEORG PHILIPP RUGENDAS
1666 Augsburg 1742
– “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) – all the more as he was not just their contemporary, no, even more, was in closest contact to the events whose eye-witness and picture reporter he became. So “1703/1704 are of also artistic bearing for Rugendas. For he records the events in a multitude of drawings made on the spot ‘after real examples’ [Füessli]” (Andrea Teuscher in Die Künstlerfamilie Rugendas 1666-1858, 1998, p. 2).
Among these then, too, besides titles inscribed with Georg Philipp Rugendas inv. et fec(it). Aug. V(ind).,
the monumental equestrian portraits
of the victors of the 13th August of Blenheim ,
Prince Eugene of Savoy
John Churchill Duke of Marlborough
on white horses
as especially for the latter so proverbial. Both with their marshal’s baton in the stretched out right and galloping to the right and left resp., thus pendant-like towards each other
as optically especially fine at the wall .
Worked within the 6-sheet “White Horses” set of the Princes on Horseback of 1713/14 (Teuscher 53-58) not provable in literature in a complete copy anymore in the
technique allowing only smallest editions of c. 50-60 fine impressions (so 1675 the expert von Sandrart) of 18½ × 14¼ in (46.9 × 36.2 cm), with Eugene (T. 55) not in Stillfried + Nagler, which both only know version T. 59 not belonging to. Not one of the six sheets, however, among the about 27,600 items of division I-XXVIII of Weigel’s Art Stock Catalog (1838/57)!
Here then additionally qualified by provenance of the
portrait collection of father & son von Roemer
in Leipsic 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).
The set owned still completely by the von Roemers – obviously as the only one, meanwhile now dissolved copy! – figured in the aforesaid Boerner sale “Print Collection of Old Masters of the XV-XVIIIth Centuries” as lot. 1670 as following:
“ The beautiful , large equestrian portraits
in marvelous , even , fresh impressions …
All mounted by old on blue cardboard ”
whose margins are laminated frame-like on the front with grey-bluish paper. The pictures themselves then braid with black surrounding line. Otherwise trimmed close to the platemark, here and there on this itself and on the right for 3.5 cm on the edge of the subject. The Eugene sheet additionally slightly rubbed, two tiny and quite small resp. scrapings on the right in the margin, only minimally recognizable vertical fold from bottom up to below the horse’s belly.
Summa summarum then a
delight sui generis of superb rarity for eyes & collection
shining far beyond this year’s memorial of Höchstedt.
And that rarity not just only due to special circumstances on the market, but technically generally preprogrammed, see above. Or, by example of Ridinger, 1856 by Thienemann :
“ 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 Rugendas’ large set of the “Princes on Horseback” as a whole, to which later his equal-named son let follow a yet with 34 x 22 cm markedly smaller one of his own, and as it served Ridinger as impulse for his own of the Princely Persons mounted on Horseback.
Available as pendants at reduced pendant price
per offer no. 14,365 / price on application
or apart per 14,364 (Eugene) and 14,363 (Marlborough) resp.
“ Thank you so much for that comprehensive background to the above titled (Brierly) print which has intrigued me … ”
(Mr. R. H., July 12, 2014)