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Susanna Maria von Sandrart

(1658–1716, Nuremberg)

Portrait of the Poet Gabrielle Charlotte Patin. Etching. 24.3 x 17.8 cm. 1682. Nagler 1; Drugulin Portrait Catalogue, p. 168, no. 15683; Heller-Andresen 3; Le Blanc 1; Mortzfeld [exhibition catalogue Wolfenbüttel 1976] A 15990; Hollstein 65 II.

Susanna Maria von Sandrart, the third child of the draughtsman, etcher and bookseller, Jacob von Sandrart (1630–1708), was born in Nuremberg in 1658. Jacob was a cousin of Joachim von Sandrart (1606–1688), the most important 17th century German artist and art writer. Susanna grew up literally at the very epicentre of the Nuremberg art scene: the house occupied by the Sandrart family was also home to the Nuremberg Art Academy, the oldest institution of its kind in the German-speaking parts of Europe, one of whose founders was Joachim von Sandrart. Being a woman, however, Susanna was not allowed to study at the Academy and so learned the art of etching exclusively in the studio of her father and great-uncle. Consequently Susanna had no opportunity to study the human body after nature, which was standard practice at the academies, nor was she permitted to go on study trips abroad. These restrictions notwithstanding, the young artist developed considerable artistic skills. She produced an extensive printed oeuvre, most of which arose during her years as a widow from 1688 to 1695 (cf. S. Leßmann, Susanna Maria von Sandrart (1658–1716). Arbeitsbedingungen einer Nürnberger Graphikerin im 17. Jahrhundert, Hildesheim 1991).

The person portrayed here is Gabrielle Charlotte Patin (1665 – after 1685), the eldest daughter of the French numismatist and physician, Charles Patin. Also active as a numismatist, Gabrielle Charlotte published a treatise on Phoenician numismatics entitled De Phœnice in numismate imperatoris Caracallæ expressa epistola in Venice in 1683. She lived in Padua, where along with her mother and her sister, Charlotte Catherine, she was a member of the Accademia Galileiana, one of the few 17th century academic societies that opened its doors to women. The present portrait came about on the initiative of Johann Georg Volkamer (1616–1693), a doctor, botanist and writer from Nurem­berg, with whom the family was on friendly terms. In 1679 Volkamer had asked Charles Patin to send him a portrait of his daughter, of which he wished to reproduce an engraving to mark the pending award of a doctorate to Gabrielle in 1680. The ceremony never took place, but the portrait was executed nonetheless and sent to the Patins in Padua. Three years later the Patins received a second portrait of Gabrielle. The date would indicate that it was the present work, with the execution of which Volkamer had entrusted the young Susanna Maria von Sandrart (cf. J. Pirson: “Die Beziehung des Pariser Arztes Charles Patin zu Nürnberger Freunden und Gönnern, Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg, 49 (1959), pp. 274–338 and p. 304).

The portrait of Gabrielle is framed by a calli­graphic ornamental border comprising a six-line poem written by Johann Georg Volkamer in which he praises the academic merits of the delightful young lady. This is a rare portrait of a 17th century female scholar. A very fine impression with thread margins. Minor ageing, otherwise in perfect condition.

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