Broadsheets (378 x 301 mm).  leaves of engravings by various German engravers, mainly after Jean Bérain. Platemarks av. 34 x 28 mm. Condition: Fine impressions; old traces of horizontal folds to plates, occasional small marginal dampstain in last few plates, lower margin of last plate strengthened and verso stained, a few platemarks cut close or shaved, occasional pale stain in gutters, not touching images, one plate with a few tears in gutter. Stab-stitched in contemp. half green-stained parchment & speckled paper over pasteboards (rubbed). ***
A collection of engraved designs for artists and craftsmen, consisting of skillful copies by German engravers of the finest French models of the newly fashionable "Régence" style of decoration, introduced by Jean Bérain I, court designer under Louis XIV for theater and festivals, gardens, and, after 1690, for all royal decorations. The engravings provide patterns for commodes, marquetry bureaux, vases, table lamps, candelabra, ceiling and wall decoration, doors, mirrors, clock mounts, wall paneling and a library decor. Most spectacular are 25 designs after Bérain for ceilings and walls, showing breathtakingly airy architectural structures, adorned with or built up from herms, caryatids, masks, interlaces, leafy arabesques, festoons, garlands, putti, exotic animals, gymnasts, actors, musicians, etc.
Of the 58 prints in this volume, 45 reproduce French engravings by and/or after Bérain. These were copied from a collection of approximately 135 engravings of his designs assembled from various suites and published in Paris by Bérain's son-in-law Jacques Thuret in 1711. Bérain's "designs were in fashion during his entire career… They became models of ornamentation for the style Louis XIV during almost the entire length of that reign. Most of [his] efforts were directed toward the planning of ephemeral structures for the menus-plaisirs [the office of the court decorator], but he also produced engraved designs … for interiors, furniture, decorative objects, garden parterres, and funeral ceremonies. In these he developed complex, light, linear surface patterns related to antique wall decoration as it had been interpreted by Raphael. … He was widely influential, especially in Sweden and Germany" (Millard Collection I, pp. 32-33). Twelve further engravings in this volume reproduce designs of the wall decorator G. Feuillet, active in France ca. 1768 to 1782. A single engraving is by an Augsburg artist, the gold- and silversmith Abraham Drentwett.
Prints were at the time the sole medium that allowed a broader public to view the exquisite pieces of furniture and decorative objects produced by designers like Bérain for the private hôtels of the highest ranks of the French aristocracy. The Augsburg art dealer and publisher Jeremias Wolff (1663-1724) was instrumental in disseminating in Germany the sensibility of the French Régence or "pre-Rococo," known locally as the "Laub und Bandlwerk" style, through his concerted publishing program of copies, by local South German engravers, of French ornament engravings ("Indem Jeremias Wolff Bérains Entwürfe nachstechen liess, und noch andere von ihm verlegte Zeichner ... dem französichen Vorbild nacheiferten, spielte er für die Verbreitung des modernen Bandlwerks in Deutschland eine wichtige Rolle" (Schwarz, p. 613). Distributed in parts (Lieferungen) of five plates each (cf. Weigert), Wolff's ornament prints were used as inspirations for their own designs by German goldsmiths, cabinetmakers, stucco-workers, wall painters, and other craftsmen, as well as by collectors and amateurs. Most are now as rare as the French originals. Present here are Parts 1-4, 6-9, and 12.
The majority of the engravings in this volume are signed by the engraver. Those which do not identify the artist are after Bérain. All the Bérain and Feuillet prints are reverse copies of the French engravings. All but a few bear the imprint Ieremias Wolff excudit Aug. Vind. (the exceptions, noted below, have no imprint or signatures but clearly belong to the series).
Pl. [1-5]) [BÉRAIN.] Part (Lieferung) 1: Five numbered plates engraved by Johann Christoph Hafner (1668-1754) [after Bérain], signed Iohann Christoph Haffner sculpsit. Plate 1 with part number No. 1, the rest numbered 2.-5. Plates 1-4 each show several objects (totaling 65 individual objects): clock mounts, clock fronts or medallions, candlesticks, urns, pitchers, and wall sconces; plate 5 is devoted to mostly military classical motifs (tridents, maces, shields, sheaths with arrows, helmets & headdresses, and a harp).
Pl. [6-10]) BÉRAIN. Part 2: Five plates engraved by Hafner, unnumbered except for the fifth, which bears the Part number "2", signed Berain Invent. / Iohann Christoph: Hafner sculps. Subjects: commodes or consoles, chandeliers, candelabra, ceiling cornice decoration, table lamps, urns; plate 9 with five parallel ornamental panels (for wall hangings or table settings?).
Pl. ) DRENTWETT, Abraham II (1647-1729). Engraving of silversmith's work. Augsburg: Wolff, [ca. 1700-1710]. (sheet size 378 x 289 mm; platemark 333 x 216 mm). The number 8 engraved within the plate. 2 figs., the uppermost showing acovered and uncovered tureens, an ornate wall sconce with trophy topped by an angel, pediments, and chimney utensils (tongs and shovel); the lower half showing two highly ornate anthropomorphic pitchers or urns; signed by Johann August Corvinus after Abraham Drentwett. From the Neue Inventiones von unterschidlich nüzlicher Silber-Arbeit (8 pl.), cf, Berlin-Kat. 956.
Pl. [12-36]) BÉRAIN. 25 plates after Bérain, designs for ceilings and a few wall panels, some in oblong format. Various engravers. Apparently comprising Lieferungen 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9, in the following order (all with Wolff imprint unless otherwise noted):
Part 9: 5 plates, engraver unknown [pl. 12-16]: pl. 12 with engraved part number No. 9, pl. 12, 15 and 16 signed Bérain Invent./ no engraver; pl. 14-15 with no signature or imprint.
Part 6: 5 plates, engr. by Jacob Weishoff [pl. 17, 19-21, 25]: pl. 17 with engraved part number No. 6, signed Bérain Invent./ Iacob Weishoff sculpsit. or I.W. sc.
Part 8: 5 plates, engr. by Gottfried Stein [pl. 18, 22-24, 33]: pl. 22 with engraved part number No. 8, all plates signed Bérain Invent. / Gottfried Stein sculps.
Part 4: 5 plates, engraver unknown [pl. 26-30]: pl. 26 with engraved part number No. 4, pl. 26-28 & 30 signed Bérain Invent./ no engraver; pl. 29 with no signature or imprint.
Part 3: 5 plates, engraver unknown [pl. 31-32, 34-36]: pl. 31 with engraved part number No. 3, all plates signed Bérain Invent./ no engraver.
Pl. [37-46]) BÉRAIN. Ten plates, oblong format, engraver unknown, of designs of chimneys and hearths, with mirrors, panels, elaborate stucco work, candelabra, etc., after Bérain. The original French suite was titled Desseins de cheminées. Comprising Lieferungen 7 & 12:
Part 7: pl. [37-40 & 42], pl. 37 with engraved part number No. 7; pl. 37-40 unsigned, no imprint, except for Wolff imprint on pl. 37.
Part 12: [pl. 41, 43-46], pl. 41 with engraved part number No. 12, all plates signed Bérain Invent./ no engraver. (These are extra-large copperplates and the fore-edges are a bit larger than the rest of the text block, hence a bit creased and with a few tiny chips.)
Pl. [47-52]) FEUILLET, G. Unterschidliche [sic] Kirchen und Kloster Porten... by Joh. Leonhardt Wüst after Feuillet. Six numbered pl. of double doors with stucco work, copy of Feuillet's Livre de Portes cochères et Portes d'église à la dernière mode (Paris: [n.d.]): cf. Guilmard 68 & Berlin Kat 3859.
Pl. [53-58]) [FEUILLET]. Six plates of lambris or wood paneling, the last showing a library. Signed by Johann Boxbart. Berlin Kat. 4018. A copy of Feuillet's Desseins de différents Lambris (Paris: [n.d.]), cf. Guilmard 68 & Berlin Kat. 4017.
OCLC locates three comparable collected volumes of the Bérain / Wolff engravings: Getty (77 plates), Harry Ransom Center (20 pl.), and Univ. of Hannover (40 pl.).
Cf. Roger-Armand Weigert, Jean I Berain, dessinateur de la chambre et du cabinet du roi (Paris, 1937); Millard Collection I, French Books, 18 & 19; Werner Schwarz, “Von ‘stimpelnden’ Uhrmacher zum Kunstverleger: Jeremias Wolff und seine Nachfolger,” in Augsburger Buchdruck und Verlagswesen von den Anfangen bis zur Gegenwart (1997), pp. 587-619. Item #2452