Centre for Romanian Studies

Centre for Romanian Studies header image 1

Collection of Antique Prints and Engravings (16thc – 19th c), (Part II)

November 2nd, 2013 · No Comments · Art Collections, Art Exhibitions, Diaspora, International Media, OPINION, PEOPLE, Reviews

Collection of Antique Prints and Engravings (16thc – 19th c), (Part II)

Constantin ROMAN

Constantin ROMAN

Collection of Antique Prints and Engravings (16thc – 19th c) Central Eastern Europe Habsburg Empire, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire (Turkey in Europe) the Principalities of Transylvania, Moldavia & Wallachia (present-day Romania), (Part II)

Comments: Rare Items, Oddities and Famous Artists
• 18th c manuscript field map of Eugene of Savoya (Habsburg-Ottoman) battle
Engravings by the great Romanian painter Theodore Aman
• Sketch of historic Downtown Bucharest
• Drawings for the test exams at the school of Architecture, Bucharest
Political cartoons of the Russian-Turkish wars by Daumier, Cham,
W. Heath
Plans of 17th and 18th century battles of Habsburg-Ottoman and Ottoman-Russian military engagements and plans of fortifications
Portraits of Princes Dimitrie Cantemir, Antiochus Cantemir, Eugene of Savoya and Brancovan
• French Cartoon of Countess Anna de Noailles (nee Princess Brancovan) and Gabriel D’Annunzio
• 3D perspective map of the Black sea (19th c)
• 17th and 18th centuries Russian, Hungarian and Swedish and Dutch prints
Share certificates of Romanian oil fields (and of Caucasus)
18th c military uniforms of Romanian regiments in the Habsburg Army
• 19th c Greek Independence battle of the Etheria fighters against the Turks
• Hungarians at Ovid’s tomb (1791)
Some Artists – Daumier, Raffet, Bouquet, Lancelot, Preziosi, Turner, Theodore Aman, Claude Vignon, Pierre Francois Basa, Emile-Louis Vernier, Auguste Alexandre Hirsch, WH Bartlett, Valerio, P.F. Tardieu, Schlotterbeck, Cham, William Heath, F. Sorrieu,
Some Map Makers – Homann, Ortelius, Mercator, De Fer, Ruscelli, Merian, Munster, Lotter, Moll, Hondius, Probst, Valk, Schenk, Castaldo, Sanson, Stackhouse, Winter, La Feuille.

Austrian Military Uniform

Austrian Military Uniform

Hungarians at Ovid's Tomb

Hungarians at Ovid’s Tomb

Raptus Virginus

Raptus Virginus

UNATTRIBUTTED ITEMS: other than the 99 framed pictures discussed above, once they would get a specific date will give a more accurate idea about the exact age structure of the collection, perhaps with a greater weight on the 18th century.

About half of the unattributed items represent the 99 framed pictures which are mosttly 19th century views of the Danube, Bucharest and the provinces as well as many costumes. There are some 18th century military uniforms of Romanian regiments in the Austrian army and a few maps. Most of the framed prints are French, English and German with some Hungarian and Austrian engravings and a few drawings and sketches.

There is a certain overlap amongst the themes. For example:
• The BLACK SEA will include maps as well as views of ports
• The CARTOONS will have military themes and Royalty
• The COSTUMES will include some 18th c Royals
• The DANUBE will have views of ports as well as Military fortifications and some battles
• The FINANCE will have share certificates of oil companies with pictures of oil fields, and costumes and the bank notes the head of king Carol II
• The MAPS will have extensive coverage of the Danube and the Black Sea as well as plans od Military
• The MILITARY will have coverage of Royalty and plans of battles along the Danube
• The ROYALS will have some views of events attended by Royalty in Bucharest and elsewhere
• The VIEWS would have some scenes of the Danube, of Bucharest and of costumes
• The FRAMED PICTURES would have only a few maps and Military costumes with a majority of views of the Danube, and Bucharest and especially costumes and views of architectural monuments
• DUPLICATES: There would be some framed pictures of views and costumes which are also in the files of unframed engravings – probably no more than 3% of the total items. However amongst the few maps which appear to be duplicates they may have a different original hand colour applied.

Russian-Ottoman War (19th c. French Cartoon)

Russian-Ottoman War (19th c. French Cartoon)

"Hora" Romanian Peasant Dance (Engraving by Theodore AMAN)

“Hora” Romanian Peasant Dance (Engraving by Theodore AMAN)

Structure of the Collection:

The collection of just over 500 items encompasses a variety of woodcuts, steel/copper engravings, mezzotints, lithographs, and some RARE ITEMS such as original manuscript maps, drawings and artist’s editions. Perhaps the most interesting item represents the framed 18th century manuscript map on Parchment of the battle between the Austrian Armies under the command of General prince Eugene of Savoya and the Ottoman armies in the 18th century, on the Danube valley, near Timisoara. Equally important are the Paris engravings of the great classic Romanian artist Theodore Aman, whose paintings are found in the National Museum in Bucharest and in the Aman Memorial House.

Ninety-Nine items are framed, whilst the remainder of some 400 engravings are mounted on non-acid cardboard and protected by a transparent non-acid overlay. Presently there is an preliminary catalogue, in first draft which needs to be completed with regards to the exact date and source attribution, artist biographies and full descriptive of each print. .

Presently there is a preliminary catalogue, which needs to be further refined with regards to the exact date and source attribution, artist biographies and full descriptive of each print.

Artists and Sources:

Prior to the 19th century these provinces of the Austrian and Turkish Empires were not on the Grand Tour and due to the ongoing wars they did not attract the interest of major artists who would produce engravings of views and costumes. There were of course exceptions – the occasional travelers to Istanbul crossing Wallachia in the 17th and 18th centuries, but they were not accompanied by artists to make a sketch of the lands they crossed (Lady Mary Wortley Montague). From a political point of view, however the area was surveyed by all major European cartographers. The constant change in frontiers between the Turkish, Austrian, Prussian and Russian empires is reflected in this very area of our collection. As such the prints have a wealth of information on the Austrian Turkish battles of the 17th and 18th centuries (i.e. Prince Eugene of Savoya’s) or the Russian-Turkish battles of the 18th and 19th centuries. There are, nevertheless, a few notable artists prior to the 19th century (Haugenberg, Redinger), who depicted Romanian scenes such as cities, battle scenes or horses.

In the wake of major European conflagrations (i.e. Crimean War of 1856, the Russian-Turkish war of 1877, even the Greek war of Independence), scores of artists were expedited to the Romanian Principalities to gather intelligence. Their work enables us today to enjoy some wonderful examples of engravings. Daumier, Raffet, Bouquet, Lancelot, Preziosi, Turner and the Romanian Theodore Aman produced rich series of plates on this subject. The Illustrated London News magazine and the French L’Illustration also often covered either political or travel stories which contained engravings. The Crimean War of 1856 and the Russian-Turkish war of 1877 had graphic coverage in the 19th century European press, either with battle scenes or political cartoons (Daumier), of which the Collection has many good examples.

Interest of the Collection: TRANS-DISCIPLINARY
(History of Art, Architecture, Geography, Ethnography, Cultural Studies, History of Russian, Turkish and Habsburg Empires, Military History)

Cartouche of an 18th c. Map of the Russian Empire

Cartouche of an 18th c. Map of the Russian Empire

A Russian engraving showing the HQ of Prince Souvoroff's Camp, at the Negoeshti Monastery  (Wallachian Campaign)

A Russian engraving showing the HQ of Prince Souvoroff’s Camp, at the Negoeshti Monastery (Wallachian Campaign)

The Deputy keeper of the Prints Collection of a major Museum in London had inspected this collection in the Spring of 1994 and registered an interest in it. A second visit by two curators of the same Museum followed in 2001, on which occasion they acknowledged both the intrinsic artistic and academic value as well as the cohesive character and effort put into it, over a period of three decades.

From a prima facie evidence it seems that this collection is not matched by similar efforts in the public domain, either in Romania, or elsewhere. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, also has not got this material although it covers immediately adjacent areas, such as the Levant and the Middle East, through the recent acquisition of a collection from a retired Shell executive.
The late Professor’s Oprescu’s collection, given to the Romanian Academy Prints Department, has some beautiful examples of watercolours and sketches, some by Count Prezziosi, but does not overlap with our prints. Prince Nicholas of Romania’s collection of maps has been dispersed soon after the Second World War. Sadly “Ceausescu’s surrogate “Muzeul Colectiilor” of Calea Victoriei, in Bucharest has relegated an important inter-war collection of historic engravings, donated by a private collector, to a “deposit” in a damp basement, sadly forgotten and most certainly ruined: such is the wisdom of our Wallachian luminaries, otherwise, known as “boierii mintii”(…).

For more information and access to pictures of the ENTIRE collection, please contact the Editor via email.

Tags: ···········

No Comments so far ↓

Like gas stations in rural Texas after 10 pm, comments are closed.