Gerson Digital : Denmark


4.3 Samuel Clausen in the Studiolo

We do know that part of the paint work in the Studiolo was executed by a certain Samuel Clausen. On 7 March 1617 he was paid ‘for the writing room with the covering under the ceiling and the wainscot in the big new house’.7 From this phrase one gets the impression that Clausen did the decoration paintwork (like he did in the Winter Room) and that more highly educated painters made the works of art that were inserted in the wainscot, except maybe those in some of the window niches showing grotesques and trophies of war [1-2].8

possibly Samuel Clausen
Decoration with war trophees, 1616-1620
panel, oil paint 79/82 x 20 cm
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle

possibly Samuel Clausen after Hans Vredeman de Vries
Decoration with war trophees, 1616-1620
panel, oil paint 82 x 20 cm
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle

One of these is clearly based on a print from a series by Hans Vredeman de Vries (1525/26-1609) of 16 engravings, published for the first time by Gerard de Jode in 1565-1571 [3].9 In the centre a queen is enthroned on a chariot with two figures bowing before her. Clausen used the motifs on the left and right showing a circular floral decoration with two birds below a large drum, a kettledrum and a variety of brass-instruments. Decorative bands are folded along the sides; below two snakes attempting to scale the bands. At the very bottom of the panel we find a lovely detail invented by the painter, only visible f to the close observer. In the Vredeman de Vries print we see an empty cartouche, but in the panel it is filled with a trompe l’oeil: the illusion of a mirror that shows the decorations painted on the opposite window niche to the right which again includes a similar cartouche with an illusionistic trompe l’oeil .10

The motifs in the panels on the east window side are based on a print series of military trophies of Enea Vico (1523-1567), published in 1553 [4].11 Inscriptions have been added to the painted trophies, emphasizing their connotation; one banner shows the letters SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus), contrasted on the opposite side with Christian IV's own motto RFP (Regna Firmat Pietas, meaning Piety strengthens the Kingdom). In this way the King’s own reign is compared with that of the glorious Roman state, which reflects his ambition to become the Emperor of a Protestant Europe.

In the window glades towards the South we find more allusions to Christian IV’s royal power. At the left side a nude Venus is to be seen, sceptre in hand, and opposite of her Mars poses with a raised sword, wearing a winged helmet [5-6]. Venus and Mars symbolise Love and War as well as Christian IV’s virtues: the good and truthful reign of the King and the dual ideal of chivalry and power embodied in him. The same symbolism returns in the Mint Gate at Frederiksborg Castle, that was decorated around 1618 under the supervision of Hans van Steenwinckel II [7].

Joannes van Doetecum (I) and Lucas van Doetecum after Hans Vredeman de Vries
Grotesques and war trophees, 1612 (first published by Gerard de Jode inc. 1565-1571)
paper, etching 155 x 209 mm
London (England), British Museum, inv./ 1886,0111.68

Enea Vico published by Antonio Lafreri
Military trophies with body armour and the head of an elephant, dated 1553
paper 251 x 171 mm
London (England), British Museum, inv./ 1870,0514.420

possibly Samuel Clausen
Mars, 1616-1620
panel, oil paint 79/82 x 20 cm
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle

possibly Samuel Clausen
Venus, 1616-1620
panel, oil paint 79/82 x 20 cm
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle

studio of Hans van Steenwinckel (II)
Mars and Venus, ca. 1618
sandstone 230 x 170 cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle


7 ’…for eet schriffue Kammer med Tecket vndder Loffted och Pernilled wdj dette store nye huus…’ (Wanscher 1930, p. 40 and p. 98, source 29); see also Hein 2006, p. 30.

8 Bering Liisberg 1914; Beckett 1937; Smidt 1968; Wadum 1989; Wadum 1994.

9 On the title page we read that the publisher envisions the prints of the volume to be of inspiration for ‘Painters, Glassmakers, Sculptors and all those in need of fine ornaments from Antiquity’ (Vredeman de Vries 1550-1560).

10 Wadum 1994, pp. 28-29.

11 All to be found on the website of the British Museum, London.

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