AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2012 Issue

Architecture and Art from Antiquariat Banzhaf

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Architecture and art.

Antiquariat Banzhaf has issued a catalogue of Architktur und Kunst. No explanation is needed for the first of those terms, but for English speakers, “kunst” is art. Despite the title, most of the descriptions are in English so speaking German is not a requirement to appreciating this catalogue. These are mostly books that tread the borderline between practical and artistic. They cover architecture, castles, country homes, gardens, furniture and more. Others deal with such topics as printing, colors, and works of art. Most are books but some are trade catalogues. Almost all are antiquarian, with the majority having been published during the 19th century. These are just a few samples of the items being offered.

We will start with an unusual book as it ties together a German painter and America's Indians. The title is Verzeichnis der Gegenstände und Arbeiten eines Indianer-Stammes im nördlichsten Amerika... and it describes a collection of crafts of the Ojibwa Indians from the middle of the 19th century. The author was Martin Pitzer, an Austrian church painter who participated in missionary work to these natives of the Great Lakes region. He served at Cross Village, a popular mission with local tribes overlooking Lake Michigan in the northern reaches of Lower Peninsula Michigan. Pitzer brought back a collection of Ojibwa crafts which he displayed in his native Austria. The collection was notable for its examples of quillwork (artistic use of porcupine quills) on bark. Item 43. Priced at €1,600 (euros, or about US $2,072).

Item 38 is De la distribution des maisons de plaisance... by Jacques-Francois Blondel, published in two volumes in 1737-1738. It is the first issue, first edition of a treatise on country homes and gardens. As a matter of clarification, these aren't farmers' houses. City folk would feel quite at home here. It contains 156 engraved plates, mostly by Blondel. €6,500 (US $8,419).

Item 1 is a remarkable portfolio of 25 pen-and-ink and wash color drawings from the Mexican archeological site of Mitla – Sud Mexicanische Alterthumer. The area was settled by the Zapotecs who thrived during the first millennium. It contains palaces and other structures, and is noted for its intricate mosaic artwork. These drawings were made by Eduard Muhlenpfordt, who spent time in Mexico in the late 1820s and early 1830s. These pictures were drawn between 1829 and 1834. Muhlenpfordt returned home in 1835 and published a book on the country. There are only a small number of these portfolios, not identical, extant, along with a later facsimile edition. €72,000 (US $93,242).

Item 31 is A Guide to Painting on Glass. Henry Bielfeld's book has been described as likely “the first book devoted solely to the painting of lantern slides. Detailed instructions are given by the author who also suggests subjects of slides.” These lantern slides would be run through a projector for enlargement on a screen, much like a slide projector today. However, in 1855, there would not yet have been photographic slides, so the images had to be painted on the glass slides. This would also have preceded electric light, but most likely limelights or some such method of intensifying light from a burning wick would have been used to make the images stand out better when displayed. €850 (US $1,100).

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