Gerson Digital : Denmark

RKD STUDIES

5.3 Second Phase: 1648-1659. A Time of Transition

When the Prince Elect died in 1647 and King Christian IV himself in 1648, an unexpected candidate came to the throne in the figure of Count Frederick, the second son. The power hierarchy was out of joint, and Frederick’s power was severely hindered by an unusually harsh ‘Håndfæstning’ (Coronation Charter) from the State Council, as well as by a series of military defeats against the Swedes in the preceding years, and by the fact that his brother-in-law, the above-mentioned Corfitz Ulfeldt, was conspiring for the throne.

Wuchters saw his chance and immediately had the newly installed Royal Engraver Albert Haelwegh engrave the portraits of Count Frederick and Sophie Amalie [1-2] that he had painted a few years before. This gesture was of course a move towards the court and no doubt a move done in the hope of a more central position. However, Frederick turned to Van Mander to arrange for the coronation festivities, and continued the use of him as his primary portraitist in the years to come. Wuchters appears not to have succeeded in his move.

While Van Mander expanded his business by taking in more clients from the high nobility, from Copenhagen University, the high clergy, and from the richest Copenhagen merchants, he remained the most favoured among a larger group of painters who were drawn into the service of the new King from the mid-1650s onwards.1 In 1651, one of Van Mander’s most important patrons, Corfitz Ulfeldt, had to flee the country on charges of corruption and, in 1657, Ulfeldt even turned traitor to join the Swedes in their renewed campaigns against Denmark (see below). Even so, Van Mander managed to stay in favour with the new King, which probably can be seen as sign of his social talent as well as of the King’s need for him. Having been so closely tied to King Frederick III’s foremost enemy and competitor within the state, to whose wife Leonora Christina he was even the drawing teacher for a couple of years in the early 1640s and as such almost formed a part of the household, Van Mander could easily have been drawn down along with the fall of his patron. The interest of Frederick III himself in keeping his most important and effective image-maker may have been as instrumental in the escape from career disaster as the navigational skill of Van Mander himself in the difficult sea of conflicting loyalties.

1
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Frederick III (1609-1670), son of King Christian IV of Denmark, 1648
paper, engraving 560 x 420 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : A. Wuchters, Reg: Pict Reg: Suæ mag:tis Cornationi gratilabundus hanc Effigum a se ad vivum pictam libens mento d.c.g. Cum Privilegio
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

2
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1628-1685), wife of King Frederik III, 1648
paper, engraving 562 x 416 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : A Wuchters, Reg: Pict Reg: mag:tis Cornationi gratilabundus hanc Effigum a se ad vivum pictam libens mento d.c.g. Cum Privilegio
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

Wuchters tried continuously to move closer to the same circle of patrons that Van Mander cultivated, and it appears that his collaboration with Albert Haelwegh, to whom he provided the models for engravings just as Van Mander did, was a way to do this. Their connection was strengthened considerably after the marriage in 1653 of Haelwegh to Anne Hansdatter, which meant that the two men became brothers-in-law. Wuchters now had the possibility to stay in Copenhagen over longer periods of time, and could use his presence in Copenhagen as well as the contacts of Haelwegh at Court and at the University to attract commissions. From 1653 to 1659 Wuchters stayed on several occasions for months at a time in Haelwegh’s house, and he delivered a substantial number of models for Haelwegh’s prints. The main stock of these consisted out of funeral oration frontispieces for the professors at Copenhagen University and for a group of high noble families such as Thott, Lange, Skeel and Rosenkrantz. From the same group of people he was also given commissions for painted portraits [3]. Van Mander had -- apart from Rosenkrantz -- other noble families as his patrons, such as the Bielke and Reedtz families [4].

3
Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Christen Skeel (1623-1688) and his wife, Birgitte Rosenkrantz, c. 1650
canvas, oil paint 200 x 196 cm
Auning, Gammel Estrup - Herergårdsmuseet

A few portraits for the royal family, such as the portrait of the young Prince Christian from 1655 [5], indicates that Wuchters was in the circle of royal attention, but by far the larger part of the commissions went to Karel van Mander, and Wuchters remained peripheral to the court.2 Perhaps he had the special attention or was more or less assigned to work for the Queen, Sophie Amalie, and would in this way continue his position as the painter of the members of the royal house on the second level of power and importance – the position that he had held in the 1640s when he painted the King’s younger sons and natural offspring. It appears, certainly, that the Queen had quite a number of his paintings in her possession when she died. These were primarily portraits of herself, but also a portrait of Wuchters’ wife, which could point to a certain favourable disposition towards him.3 However, many of these portraits may stem from a later date as a number of Wuchters’ portraits of her show her as Queen Dowager [6], that is, from a time, when he had become royal counterfeiter after Van Mander’s death in 1670.

4
Karel van Mander (III)
Portrait of Henrik Bielke (1615-1683), 1650s
panel, oil paint 47 x 35 cm
Hillerød, The National Museum of History Frederiksborg Castle, inv./cat.nr. A 1220

5
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of King Christian V of Denmark (1646–1699) as a child, dated 1655
paper, engraving 309 x 212 mm
lower left : Ab. Wuchters pin
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art, inv./cat.nr. KKSgb8533

6
Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1628-1685), wife of King Frederick III of Denmark, c. 1680
copper, oil paint 80 x 63 cm
Copenhagen, The Royal Danish Collection - Rosenborg Castle, inv./cat.nr. 404

To return to Wuchters’ position during the 1650s: It appears almost as if he was more the painter of the counter pole of power in Denmark than of the King, and thus it seems as if Van Mander and Wuchters did perhaps take quite different positions at the political level of their field. The State Council had put severe restrictions on Frederick III’s freedom of action in their Coronation Charter and it was arguably the real stronghold of power in the new political order of the 1650s. Frederick III had to look for new allies to support him and was blaming the Council for its reluctance to release the funds that had been necessary to defend the country against the Swedes under the reign of his father. In this sense, a domestic power struggle was playing out during the 1650s while both Denmark and Sweden were preparing for the next stage of their conflict.

In this situation, in 1653, Abraham Wuchters started preparing a series of models for engravings to be published by Haelwegh. The series, that continued to be under preparation until the outbreak of the new war against the Swedes in 1657, was to show, for the first time in Danish history, all the members of the State Council.4 Effectively, what he was striving to accomplish was in this way a portrait of government and thus, it can be argued, an affirmation of the new domestic power balance and the importance of the State Council in it. As all the existing images from the series are alike in format and layout, the members of Council are considered as a body, not depicted as individual important high noblemen but as an effective body of governmental power [7-23]. Whether intended or not, this series, which never came to be finished, could therefore be read as Wuchters’ statement of political allegiance.

7
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Joachim Gersdorff (1611-1661), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 315 x 209 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Joachimo Gersdorff. Dno de / Fijngbijholm. Equiti Aurato Regni Daniae Senatori et / Magno Aulae Magistro Ser Reg. Maj Praefecto Borringholmienh
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art, inv./cat.nr. KKS11330

8
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Otte Krag (1611-1666), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 262 x 189 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustris et Genrolo Domino Ottoni Krag. / Dno. de .Woldberg, Regni Daniæ Senatori, / Ser Reg Maj Præfecto Ripenli.
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

9
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Tage Thott (1580-1658), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 322 x 216 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Tagoni Tott. Dno de Erichsholm / Equiti Aurato, Regni Daniæ Senatori, Ser. Reg. Maj: / Præfecto Goenobii Borringenfis
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

10
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Ove Gedde (1594-1660), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 309 x 206 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Oveno Giedde Dno de / Tommerup, Equiti Aurato Regni Daniæ Thalafsiarcho et / Senatori, Ser: Reg: Maj: / Præfecto Helfingburgenfi
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

11
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Erik Juel (1591-1657), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 325 x 206 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Erico Juel, Domino de / Hindsbeck,, Regni Daniæ Senatori, Ser: / Reg Maj: Præfecto Alburgenfi
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

12
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Mogens Høg (1593-1661), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 323 x 210 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Magno Hóeg, Dno de / Kiergardsholm, Regni Daniæ Senatori, / Ser Reg Maj. Præfecto Silkeburgenfi
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

13
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Mogens Kaas (1570-1656), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 322 x 216 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Magno Kaas, Dno. de Stofring. / Equiti Aurato Regni Daniæ Senatori Ser. / Reg. Maj. Præfecto Nijburgenfi
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

14
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Frederik Reedtz (1586-1659), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 318 x 208 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Friderico Reetz Domino de Tijgestrup. / Equiti Aurato Regni Daniæ Senatori Ser. / Reg. Maj. Præfecto Wordingburgensi
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

15
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Gunde Rosenkrantz (1604-1675), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 328 x 216 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Gundao Rosenkrantz / Dno de Winding, Regni Daniæ Senatori, / Ser. Reg Maj. Præfecto Calloensi
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

16
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Peder Reedtz (1614-1674), c. 1658-1659
paper, engraving 325 x 203 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolis Dominus Petrus Reetz Dno de / Tijgstrup Regni Daniæ Supremus Thesaurarius et / Senator , Ser Reg. Maj. Præfectus in Insula Moen
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

17
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Jørgen Seefeld (1606-1666), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 324 x 209 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Georgio Seefelt Dno de / Næfs, Regni Daniæ Senatori, Selandiæ Judici Provinciali, / Ser: Reg. Maj. Præfecto Ringstadiensi
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

18
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Peder Reedtz (1614-1674), c. 1658-1659
paper, engraving 325 x 203 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolis Dominus Petrus Reetz Dno de / Tijgstrup Regni Daniæ Supremus Thesaurarius et / Senator , Ser Reg. Maj. Præfectus in Insula Moen
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

19
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Niels Trolle (1559-1667), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 328 x 214 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Nicolao Trolle Dno de Trolholm, / Equiti Aurato Regni. Daniæ Senatori, Proregi / Norwegiæ, Ser. Reg. Maj. Præfecto Agrshusiensi
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

20
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Christen Thomesen Sehested (1590-1657), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 335 x 204 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Magnifico Domino Christiano / Thomæ Sested Domino de Stougardt / Equiti Aurato, Regis Daniæ Cancellario, Regnig Senatori Ser Reg Majt: [...] / Præfecto Coenobii S. Ca[..]iti.
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

21
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Iver Vind (1590-1658), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 315 x 204 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Ivaro Wind, Dno. de Narholm, / Equiti Aurato, Regni Daniæ. Senatori Ser. / Reg. Maj. Præfecto Dalum.
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

22
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Christopher Urne (1593-1663), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 322 x 207 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri ac Magnifico Domino Christophoro Urne, Dno. in / Aassmare. Equiti Aurato. Regni Dania Cancellario et / Senatori, Ser. Reg. Maj. Præfecto Dracsholmiensi.
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

23
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Axel Urup (1601-1671), c. 1655-1659
paper, engraving 318 x 206 mm
bottom (positional attribute) : Illustri et Generolo Domino Axelio Urop, Dno de Belteberg, Equiti / Aurato, Regni Daniæ Senatori, Exercitus Scanici Generali, Ser. / Reg. Maj. Gubernatori ai Præfecto Malmogiensi.
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

24
Albert Haelwegh after Abraham Wuchters
The assumption of Otte Thott (1607-1656), c. 1655
paper, engraving 410 x 515 mm
lower left : Abr wuchter pin.
Copenhagen, SMK - The Royal Collection of Graphic Art

He drew on this project as he was also gaining commissions from the State Council families and produced, among other things, a funeral oration frontispiece for Council member Otte Thott in 1656 [24] and a portrait of council member Christen Skeel [3] and his son-in-law in spe Kjeld Lange [26] approximately at the same time.

Van Mander, meanwhile, painted a very substantial number of portraits of King Frederick III in the first five years after his ascension, where they were probably in high demand in order to establish the King’s image across his realms and among his allies. Van Mander then moved into diplomatic services for the King, both at times as host for foreign diplomats and sometimes even as unofficial go-between during negotiations, and as a painter. In 1655 he painted the members of a Tartarian embassy [25]. In 1656 he started a series of 24 foreign diplomats, also meant to be engraved by Haelwegh [27-31]. Thus, he appears to have remained close to the king and in his service at different levels.

Wuchters, on the other hand, did not get the same kind of access to the royal inner circle but chose rather to put his bets on what was increasingly emerging as the king’s counterpart and opposition. This move was perhaps precarious, although not dangerous, but was followed by another in the next phase that seems to have proven more damaging to his positioning efforts.

25
Karel van Mander (III)
A Tatar mission visiting Copenhagen, dated 1655
canvas, oil paint 218 x 282 cm
lower right : svltan. kolsehattafalck. nvraalle. elcheby. mursa. dervss. hassan. baba. arramasan 1655
Copenhagen, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark, inv./cat.nr. Sp. 796

26
Abraham Wuchters
Portrait of Kjeld Lange (1620-1658), c.. 1656
canvas, oil paint 121 x 102 cm
Køge (Denmark), Carlsen-Langes Legatstiftelse

27
Karel van Mander (III)
Portrait of Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam (1610-1665), 1656
canvas, oil paint 127 x 104 cm
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 1673


28
Karel van Mander (III)
Portrait of Michiel Adriaensz. de Ruyter (1607-1676), 1656
canvas, oil paint 140 x 104 cm
upper left : Vice Admiral de Reuter
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 1671

29
Karel van Mander (III)
Portrait of Witte Cornelisz. de With (1599-1658), 1656
canvas, oil paint 130 x 103 cm
topside, left of the middle : Witte Wittenson
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 1672


30
Karel van Mander (III)
Portrait of Pieter Florisz (1602-1658), 1656
canvas, oil paint 125 x 105 cm
upper left : Pieter Floris
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 1670

31
Karel van Mander (III)
Portrait of Cornelis Tromp (1629-1691), 1656
canvas, oil paint 1230 x 1020 cm
Skoklosters slott (Håbo), Skoklosters slott, inv./cat.nr. 1669


Notes

1 The reign of Frederick III is characterised by a broader field of painters, as well as by the systematisation of the royal collections of paintings, engravings, books and artefacts. Among the painters in royal service are found Wolfgang Heimbach (c.1613/16-1678, Danish service c.1653-c.1662), Paul Prieur (c.1620-in or after 1683, Danish service from c.1655), Toussaint Gelton (c.1630-1680, Danish service from 1674-78), and Cornelis Norbertus Gijsbrechts (active 1659-1675, in Danish service 1668-1672 . On Gelton, see § 8.

2 Eller 1971, pp. 225-45 lists the many commissions for the royal family during the new monarch’s first decade in power. These can be compared with hardly any commissions for Wuchters (Eller 1971, pp. 269-271).

3 Madsen 1915A, p. 172.

4 Eller 1971, pp. 272-279.

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