The Augsburg Genealogical Book - Coat of Arms Splendour and Figurative Art

3 March – 24 June 2012

The Augsburg family book contains 43 preparatory drawings (partly coloured in watercolour) for imaginatively designed armorial figures as well as 53 proofs of the etchings from the workshop of Hans Burgkmair the Younger (c. 1500 - 1562) and Heinrich Vogtherr the Younger (1513 - 1566/68). Some of the sheets are handwritten and dated "1547".

In the early modern period, there were numerous such "genealogies", the purpose of which was to pompously represent the rank and status of families bearing coats of arms. The Augsburg Geschlechterbuch was first published in Augsburg in 1618 under the title "Erneuertes Geschlechter Buch" with additional pictures. The intensive work of the artist's workshop is evident in the various figures: some pen and ink drawings have been corrected with red chalk, and the assignments of the figures to names and coats of arms have not yet been decided. Only on some drawings are the coats of arms already inserted.

The exhibition shows the preliminary drawings and proofs of the Augsburg Geschlechterbuch in the context of the coat of arms paintings by Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer as well as the models used for the coat of arms holder figures, especially by Hans Burgkmair the Elder, and contemporary comparisons. Among them are important loans from the Württemberg State Library in Stuttgart and the State and City Library in Augsburg.

A war loss returns

The Augsburg Family Book, which had been in the Royal Museum of Prints and Drawings in Stuttgart since the 19th century, was initially thought to have been burnt during World War II, but resurfaced in 2004 at Sotheby's auction house in New York. An American soldier had unlawfully stolen the book from its storage place at Schloss Waldburg/Hohenlohe towards the end of the war. In 2010, the volume was returned to the Staatsgalerie's Prints and Drawings Department after a New York court awarded it to the state of Baden-Württemberg.