Chapter 8:  Loose Ends.

1.  Florentine foreknowledge of Scagliola

Dr. Diemer’s theory is convincing, but her suggestion that Carlo di Cesare del Palagio  already knew how to make artificial marble when he arrived in Germany is open to doubt.  If the Florentines had been aware of the technique at the time, there would surely be  some evidence of its use; in fact the earliest examples of scagliola in Tuscany date to the second half of the seventeenth century.
     In the latter part of the sixteenth century the Florentine court put considerable effort and resources into the parallel developments of hardstone carving (‘Glyptic’ Art), and Pietre Dure mosaics; the former was used for table ornaments,  religious artefacts, and cameos, the latter for making inlaid table tops and display cabinets.  Both processes required considerable amounts of time and skill, and access to expensive and rare materials.1

Glyptic Art.  A Lapis Lazuli vessel with gold and enamel mounts.  Florence c.1580.  Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

The Medici set up a successful state-run enterprise (which survives to this day as the Opificio delle Pietre Dure) whose function was to produce highly sought-after prestige artefacts.  These could be sold for huge sums of money or used as diplomatic ‘gifts’ for retaining influence among the more powerful European courts.  It seems unlikely that the Tuscan Grand Dukes would have allowed the simultaneous development and exploitation of a cheap alternative to these art forms for which they were so renowned.

Florentine Pietre Dure Tabletop celebrating the elevation of Duke Maximilian I  to Elector c. 1633.  Scagliola inlays in black timber frame.  Stone Rooms, Munich Residence.*

Elector Maximilian’s coat of arms showing electoral cross and orb.*

The specialised plaster mixes that crossed the Alps with Carlo were probably of interest more for their hardness and durability than the fact that they could be pigmented and stone-polished.  Even so, as Dr. Diemer asserts, the Italian collaboration must have been important; without Carlo’s intimate knowledge of materials that were barely known of in Germany, Blasius Pfeiffer, a woodcarver and cabinet-maker, would have struggled to find a way of using plaster and pigments to imitate hardstone inlays.

That he should have wanted to do so in the first place can be explained by the fact that many of the ornamental cabinets for which  Augsburg was famous were embellished with Pietre Dure panels sent from Florence.  Blasius would have encountered these panels through his work – and he would have been aware of their value.

Lower and middle section of an Ornamental Cabinet with Florentine Pietre Dure columns and inlaid panels on ivory veneers.  Augsburg 1660-70.  Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The theory that scagliola was invented in the last quarter of the sixteenth century only holds good in the absence of earlier examples.  As was said in the previous chapter, Dr. Neumann believed the origins of the technique might be found in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  However, in the sixty years since he published his article, nothing new has come to light either physically or in documentary form.    For the moment the negative evidence is in Blasius Pfeiffer’s favour; and whether he invented scagliola or not, there can be little doubt that he was the first to use it in such an accomplished way.
    (Many commentators suggest that scagliola was known to the ancient world, but there is no good evidence for this.  Stucco lustro was certainly used by the Greeks and Romans, but the technique and its aims are quite different.  This is discussed in Chapter 1).

2Blasius Pfeiffer’s Back-pay.

When Blasius was made a court artist in 1587, in addition to receiving an annual salary he was given back-pay of 42 Guilders to cover the preceding two years.  The records describe him at this stage of his career as a joiner (Schreiner), cabinet maker (Tischler), and woodcarver (Bildschnitzer); but he may already have been involved in the activity that would occupy him for the rest of his life.

The Antiquarium, Munich Residenz.*

One of Duke Wilhelm’s key projects on succeeding his father was to restyle the Antiquarium, a seventy metre long, purpose-built chamber designed to house Duke Albrecht’s collection of antique sculptures.  Friedrich Sustris was given orders to turn it into a grand banqueting hall with a raised dais at each end, one to separate off the Duke’s personal dining area from his guests, the other for musicians and actors.
     The former Duke’s antique statues were unceremoniously removed, many to exterior locations where they eventually perished; but along the walls a series of plinths was installed to display portrait busts.  Each plinth was given a recessed panel  inscribed with the supposed name of its occupant.  Protocol stated that the appropriate medium for formal nameplates, memorial stones and commemoration plaques was Paragone, a pure black marble from the Netherlands; but with approximately 200 panels to make and inscribe, the court decided to use black scagliola instead.

Statuary Busts on plinths with black scagliola nameplates.  Some of these nameplates may be original; if so, they could be the oldest known scagliola artefacts in existence.*

This was clearly a cost-cutting exercise.  Paragone was fearfully expensive and difficult to obtain; but the nameplates nevertheless had to be of the highest quality, and good enough to pass for the real thing.  The refurbishment of the Antiquarium was a prestige project and the plinths, set on three levels, were extremely visible.  Perhaps this first commission was a test of Blasius and his artificio;  if so, they seem to have passed it with flying colours.

3. Early Examples of Scagliola beyond the Munich Court 

1. Three Unexplained Table Tops.

In her doctoral thesis (1987) on the Munich scagliola workers of the 17th and 18th centuries, Michaela Liebhardt drew attention to three inlaid table tops made around 1600:

The first of these can be seen in the ‘Mythos Salzburg’ permanent exhibition in the Salzburg Museum.  It was made for the Prince Bishop of Salzburg, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (r. 1587-1612).

Scagliola tabletop c. 1590.  The Salzburg Museum, Salzburg. (Reflections of former Prince Bishops can be seen in the protective glass cover.)  

The large circular slab (diam. 175cms.) has the Prince Bishop’s coat of arms set in a central cartouche surrounded by two eight-scalloped borders in black and red, from which tapering columns and obelisks extend out to the perimeter.  The design is basic and the quality of the marble imitations unsophisticated, but this grand table top is nevertheless a commanding and ambitious piece of scagliola.  Liebhardt used the coat-of-arms, which includes the insignia of the Prince Bishop’s office, to date it to between 1587 and 1594. (Von Raitenau was appointed in 1587, and in 1594 he altered his coat-of-arms to include a branch of the family that had died out.)  

A second rectangular table was made for the Archbishopric of Salzburg around 1600. This too has a coat-of-arms in the centre, again surrounded by an eight-scalloped border; but instead of the geometrically formed shapes of the earlier table, the remainder of the surface is inlaid with Italianate strapwork and foliage

Inlaid scagliola slab c. 1600.  Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg. 

Although much smaller (and in a poor state of repair), the design of the piece is finer than the Prince Bishop’s. Unusually it has a marbled background of beige-white with red veining. Today the table is kept in the museum of the Fortress of Hohensalzburg.

Liebhardt describes a third table top kept at Schloss Urach, which was made during the reign of Duke Friedrich I of Württemberg (1593-1608). The Duke’s coat-of-arms, which takes up most of the slab, is inlaid into a reddish background contained within an octagonal outer border.  The piece was documented in the 1621 inventory of the Stuttgart Kunstkammer as an ‘eight-sided inlaid table [made] of plaster (Gips).’ From the description it would be closer in style to the Fistulator workshop.  (No photo available). 

Different explanations

The existence of these table tops in states bordering Bavaria poses questions.  Who made them, how did they learn the technique, and were they connected in any way to Blasius Pfeiffer?  There is no firm evidence and the following theories are conjectural:

  • Hans Kerschpaumer, the Salzburg master stonemason, is a good candidate for the von Raitenau piece; his 1591 letter to the Archduke Ferdinand places him in the right place, at the right time, and with the right qualifications. Could he have come by these while working alongside Blasius in the late 1580s?

Detail of the Marble Floor, The Reiche Kapelle, Munich Residence.*

We can assume that Prince Wilhelm’s chapel had an elaborately inlaid marble floor, similar to the later Reiche Kapelle of his son Maximilian.  (Pronner’s Malbuch  refers more than once to stonemasons at work in the chapel). Manufacturing and laying such a floor may have been beyond the skills of the Munich stonemasons, more at home with traditional chequerboard designs.
     Salzburg, with its marble mines close-by at Adnet, was an important centre for the stone and marble industry north of the Alps; perhaps the experienced Kerschpaumer was sent to Munich by his employer Archduke Ferdinand to assist.  This would not have been unusual; rulers often asked each other for the loan of experienced artists and craftsmen when undertaking difficult projects.  (Several European courts asked for the secondment of scagliola experts over the next hundred years – not always successfully).  The similarities and differences between marble and scagliola are intriguing, and working alongside each other in a confined space, the scagliolist and the master stonemason would have found much to talk about.

  • Although they differ substantially in style, all three slabs may have come from the same hand. The design-work for inlaid panels and table tops, whether Italian Pietre Dure or German scagliola, was in the hands of court architects and designers, men like Giorgio Vasari and his successor Bernardo Buontalenti in Florence, and Friedrich Sustris in Munich.  The craftsman’s skill lay in interpreting their intentions as faithfully as possible and overcoming the difficulties imposed by the materials. (N.B.  Hans Kerschpaumer’s letter, where he asks the Archduke if he can have a drawing of his coat-of-arms made and coloured by an artist).

Floral design for a Pietre Dure table top by Jacopo Ligozzi.  Oil on Paper c. 1610-20. Oppificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence.

Perhaps all these table tops were manufactured in the Fistulator workshop to designs by Sustris or his successor Hans Krumper, and then sent to other courts as representational gifts from Duke Wilhelm or Duke Maximilian.

  • One or more of the tops may be the work of Italian stuccadors and/or German co-workers who (as may have happened with Kerschpaumer) observed and learnt the technique in the 1580s and 90s while working alongside Blasius.  Let go by the court, they were working on their own account for clients beyond Bavaria.  (This was a development that Maximilian would do his best to eradicate in the following century, insisting that the manufacture and use of the new material should remain exclusively under his control).

Michaela Liebhardt concludes her discussion of these early table tops with an important point:  all three are isolated pieces, they have no connection (unless to Munich) to any  known centres of scagliola production, either before or until long after their dates of manufacture.  By way of contrast, Blasius Pfeiffer’s early work initiated a scagliola workshop and dynasty within the Munich court that lasted for one hundred and fifty years.  The quality he achieved raised his artificio to the status of a prestige material that was  considered fit for royalty, and the methods he used established procedures and standards that would set a benchmark for the future of scagliola.

Scagliola wall panels by Blasius Pfeiffer (c. 1604).  Pictorial scagliola and flower vases by Wilhelm Pfeiffer (c. 1630).  The Reiche Kapelle,  Munich Residence.*

4.  Carlo di Cesare del Palagio’s Activities in Dresden and Mantua.

Dr. Diemer has traced Carlo di Cesare del Palagio’s movements during the 1590s and suggests that he played an important role in introducing Stückmarmor (here distinguished from ‘inlaid’  scagliola) to the courts of Dresden and Mantua.  

In 1590 he was called to Dresden to work for Elector Christian I of Saxony (r.1586-91), under the direction of the Swiss artistic director Giovanni Maria Nosseni (1544-1620).  He provided figures in bronze and terracotta for the Wettin funeral monument in Freiberg Cathedral, and portrait busts and other sculptures for the Dresden Lusthaus (Pleasure Pavilion).  Stückmarmor was used in both locations.  The Wettin memorial has survived, but the Lusthaus  was blown to smithereens in 1794 in a gunpowder accident.n

Images of the Wettin Funerary Monument can be found on the Freiberg Cathedral website at:
www.freiberger-dom-app.de/chor/moritzmonument-und-nossenichor

Dr. Diemer makes the point (similar to Michaela Liebhardt’s – see above) that  there was no Stückmarmor produced in this part of Germany before Carlo’s stay, nor was there any for a long time afterwards.  This implies that the Italian stuccadore had a hand in the early introduction of the material to Saxony, but when he left the secret went with him.

Carlo returned to Munich in 1593 to work on another bronze funeral monument, this time for Duke Wilhelm V.  The project was abandoned when Wilhelm abdicated in 1597, and under the new Duke Maximilian I, he was forced to seek work elsewhere.  An excessive demand for outstanding payments was rejected, and he left Bavaria with debts to his name and a judicial warrant out for his arrest.
     He returned to Italy and found new employment in Mantua with Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga (r.1587-1612).  He died there the following year, probably from plague. 

One of four bronze soldiers guarding the cenotaph of Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria (1282-1347) in the Frauenkirche, Munich.  The figures, by Hubert Gerhard and Carlo del Palagio, were commissioned by Duke Wilhelm V in the mid-1590s to form part of his own funeral monument, which was to be built in the Jesuit Church of St. Michael.  The project was abandoned by his son  Duke Maximilian I on grounds of cost. 

The Gonzagas were related by mariage to the Wittelsbachs and relations between the two ruling families were good.  Vincenzo had visited Munich in 1595 and doubtless been impressed by Prince Wilhelm’s scagliola-lined chapel.  In 1597 his representative at the Munich court, Astor Leoncelli, was charged with obtaining scagliola recipes, samples and a maestro.  Leoncelli advised his master that it was the maestro who was all-important, not the samples and recipes.  From the correspondence it appears that the newly-crowned Maximilian was open to the idea of sending Blasius; but then news arrived that Carlo, now in Mantua, had already arranged for another man to come, and the project to send Blasius was dropped.

This other man was almost certainly Augustin Übelherr, who appears in Pronner’s Malbuch in the late 1580s, working with a labourer alongside Blasius in Duke Wilhelm’s chapel.  Dr. Diemer equates him with the ‘German maestro of finto marmo (false marble)’ who, according to a Mantuan court document, was completing the funerary monument of the Gonzagas in the Basilica of Sant’Andrea in 1599.  She also suggests he was the probable supplier of the scagliola pilasters installed in the Galleria della Mostra of the Palazzo Ducale around the same time.  (It is tempting to think that Carlo, unable to prise Blasius from the Munich court, had put Übelherr forward for the Dresden scagliola as well.  As scagliola’s first journeyman, Übelherr had little hope of advancement in Munich, where Blasius was the undisputed maestro.   Only by working for courts beyond Bavaria could Übelherr advance his own career).

Note: In 1612 Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga was buried next to his wife  in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, an area of the church dedicated to the preservation of the holy relic of the Blood of Christ.  There is no trace of his funerary monument today.
   Following damage sustained during the 2012 earthquake, the Galleria della Mostra remains closed for repairs and conservation.  The door-linings to the Room of Cupid and Psyche shown in the two images below are the oldest-looking scagliola to be found in the palace complex at present.  Perhaps they are by Augustin Übelherr; if so, they bear little similarity to the work of his master in Munich.

Scagliola door-lining in the Room of Cupid and Psyche in the Palazzo Ducale, Mantua.  The work is basic in design and execution and may  date back to the late 1590s when the ‘German maestro of finto marmo’ was at work.

* © Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung, www.schloesser.bayern.de
Photos by Richard Feroze

References:  Erwin Neumann:  Materialen zur Geschichte der  Scagliola in ‚Jahrbuch der  Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien’, 55, 1959 pp. 75-152.
Michaela Liebhardt, Die Münchener Scagliolaarbeiten des 17. Und 18. Jahrhunderts, Inaugural Dissertation zur Erlangung des  Doktorgrades de Pohilosophie an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität zu München – Aus München 1987.
Dorothea Diemer, Hubert Gerhard und Carlo di Cesare del Palagio, Bronzeplastiker der Spätrenaissance – Berlin 2004.  Vol. I pp.38-43, 133-136, 253-277, 285-320, 332-336.

Chapter 8:  Loose Ends.

1.  Florentine foreknowledge of Scagliola

Dr. Diemer’s theory is convincing, but her suggestion that Carlo di Cesare del Palagio  already knew how to make artificial marble when he arrived in Germany is open to doubt.  If the Florentines had been aware of the technique at the time, there would surely be  some evidence of its use; in fact the earliest examples of scagliola in Tuscany date to the second half of the seventeenth century.
     In the latter part of the sixteenth century the Florentine court put considerable effort and resources into the parallel developments of hardstone carving (‘Glyptic’ Art), and Pietre Dure mosaics; the former was used for table ornaments,  religious artefacts, and cameos, the latter for making inlaid table tops and display cabinets.  Both processes required considerable amounts of time and skill, and access to expensive and rare materials. The Medici set up a successful state-run enterprise (which survives to this day as the Opificio delle Pietre Dure) whose function was to produce highly sought-after prestige artefacts.  These could be sold for huge sums of money or used as diplomatic ‘gifts’ for retaining influence among the more powerful European courts.  It seems unlikely that the Tuscan Grand Dukes would have allowed the simultaneous development and exploitation of a cheap alternative to these art forms for which they were so renowned.

The specialised mixes that crossed the Alps with Carlo were probably of interest more for their hardness and durability than the fact that they could be pigmented and stone-polished.  Even so, as Dr. Diemer asserts, the Italian collaboration must have been important; without Carlo’s intimate knowledge of materials that were barely known of in Germany, Blasius Pfeiffer, a woodcarver and cabinet-maker, would have struggled to find a way of using plaster and pigments to imitate hardstone inlays.  That he should have wanted to do so in the first place can be explained by the fact that many of the ornamental cabinets for which  Augsburg was famous were embellished with Pietre Dure panels sent from Florence.  Blasius would have encountered these panels through his work; and he would have been aware of their value.

The theory that scagliola was invented in the last quarter of the sixteenth century only holds good in the absence of earlier examples.  As was said in the previous chapter, Dr. Neumann believed the origins of the technique might be found in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  However, in the sixty years since he published his article, nothing new has come to light either physically or in documentary form.    For the moment the negative evidence is in Blasius Pfeiffer’s favour; and whether he invented scagliola or not, there can be little doubt that he was the first to use it in such an accomplished way.
    (Many commentators suggest that scagliola was known to the ancient world, but there is no evidence for this.  Stucco lustro was certainly used by the Greeks and Romans, but the technique and its aims are quite different.  This is discussed in Chapter 1.)

2Blasius Pfeiffer’s Back-pay. 

When Blasius was made a court artist in 1587, in addition to receiving an annual salary he was given back-pay of 42 Guilders to cover the preceding two years.  The records describe him at this stage of his career as a joiner (Schreiner), cabinet maker (Tischler), and woodcarver (Bildschnitzer); but he may already have been involved in the activity that would occupy him for the rest of his life.

One of Duke Wilhelm’s key projects on succeeding his father was to restyle the Antiquarium, a seventy metre long, purpose-built chamber designed to house Duke Albrecht’s collection of antique sculptures.  Friedrich Sustris was given orders to turn it into a grand banqueting hall with a raised dais at each end, one to separate off the Duke’s personal dining area from his guests, the other for musicians and actors.  The former Duke’s antique statues were unceremoniously removed, many to exterior locations where they eventually perished, but along the walls a series of plinths was installed to display portrait busts.  Each plinth was given a recessed panel  inscribed with the supposed name of its occupant.  Protocol stated that the appropriate medium for formal nameplates, memorial stones and commemoration plaques was Paragone, a pure black marble from the Netherlands; but with approximately 200 panels to make and inscribe, the court decided to use black scagliola instead.
    This was clearly a cost-cutting exercise.  Paragone was fearfully expensive and difficult to obtain; but the nameplates nevertheless had to be of the highest quality, and good enough to pass for the real thing.  The refurbishment of the Antiquarium was a prestige project and the plinths, set on three levels, were extremely visible.  Perhaps this first commission was a test of Blasius and his artificio; if so, they seem to have passed it with flying colours.

3. Early Examples of Scagliola beyond the Munich Court 

1. Three Unexplained Table Tops.

In her doctoral thesis (1987) on the Munich scagliola workers of the 17th and 18th centuries, Michaela Liebhardt drew attention to three inlaid table tops made around 1600.

The first of these can be seen in the ‘Mythos Salzburg’ permanent exhibition in the Salzburg Museum.  It was made for the Prince Bishop of Salzburg, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (r. 1587-1612). The large circular slab (diam. 175cms.) has the Prince Bishop’s coat of arms set in a central cartouche surrounded by two eight-scalloped borders in black and red, from which tapering columns and obelisks extend out to the perimeter.  The design is basic and the quality of the marble imitations unsophisticated, but this grand table top is nevertheless a commanding and ambitious piece of scagliola.  Liebhardt used the coat-of-arms, which includes the insignia of the Prince Bishop’s office, to date it to between 1587 and 1594. (Von Raitenau was appointed in 1587, and in 1594 he altered his coat-of-arms to include a branch of the family that had died out.)  

A second rectangular table was made for the Archbishopric of Salzburg around 1600. This too has a coat-of-arms in the centre, again surrounded by an eight-scalloped border; but instead of the geometrically formed shapes of the earlier table, the remainder of the surface is inlaid with Italianate strapwork and foliage.  Although much smaller (and in a poor state of repair), the design of the piece is finer than the Prince Bishop’s. Unusually it has a marbled background of beige-white with red veining. Today the table is kept in the museum of the Fortress of Hohensalzburg.

Liebhardt describes a third table top kept at Schloss Urach, which was made during the reign of Duke Friedrich I of Württemberg (1593-1608). The Duke’s coat-of-arms, which takes up most of the slab, is inlaid into a reddish background contained within an octagonal outer border.  The piece was documented in the 1621 inventory of the Stuttgart Kunstkammer as an ‘eight-sided inlaid table [made] of plaster (Gips).’ From the description it sounds to be closer in style to the Fistulator workshop.  (No photo available). 

Different explanations

The existence of these table tops in states bordering Bavaria poses questions.  Who made them, how did they learn the technique, and were they connected in any way to Blasius Pfeiffer?  There is no firm evidence and the following theories are conjectural:

  • Hans Kerschpaumer, the Salzburg master stonemason, is a good candidate for the von Raitenau piece; his 1591 letter to the Archduke Ferdinand places him in the right place, at the right time, and with the right qualifications. Could he have come by these while working alongside Blasius in the late 1580s?

       We can assume that Prince Wilhelm’s chapel had an elaborately inlaid marble floor, similar to the later Reiche Kapelle of his son Maximilian.  (Pronner’s Malbuch  refers more than once to stonemasons at work in the chapel). Manufacturing and laying such a floor may have been beyond the skills of the Munich stonemasons, more at home with traditional chequerboard designs.  Salzburg, with its marble mines close-by at Adnet, was an important centre for the stone and marble industry north of the Alps; perhaps the experienced Kerschpaumer was sent to Munich by his employer Archduke Ferdinand to assist.  This would not have been unusual; rulers often asked each other for the loan of experienced artists and craftsmen when undertaking difficult projects.  (Several European courts asked for the secondment of scagliola experts over the next hundred years – not always successfully).  The similarities and differences between marble and scagliola are intriguing, and working alongside each other in a confined space, the scagliolist and the master stonemason would have found much to talk about. 

  • Although they differ substantially in style, all three slabs may have come from the same hand. The design-work for inlaid panels and table tops, whether Italian Pietre Dure or German scagliola, was in the hands of court architects and designers, men like Giorgio Vasari and his successor Bernardo Buontalenti in Florence, and Friedrich Sustris in Munich.  The craftsman’s skill lay in interpreting their intentions as faithfully as possible and overcoming the difficulties imposed by the materials.  (N.B.  Hans Kerschpaumer’s letter, where he asks the Archduke if he can have a drawing of his coat-of-arms made and coloured by an artist).  Perhaps these table tops were manufactured in the Fistulator workshop to designs by Sustris or his successor Hans Krumper, and then sent to other courts as representational gifts from Duke Wilhelm or Duke Maximilian.

  • One or more of the tops may be the work of Italian stuccadors and/or German co-workers who (perhaps like Kerschpaumer) observed and learnt the technique in the 1580s and 90s while working alongside Blasius. Let go by the court, they were working on their own account for clients beyond Bavaria.  (This was a development that Maximilian would do his best to eradicate in the following century, insisting that the manufacture and use of the new material should remain exclusively under his control).

Michaela Liebhardt concludes her discussion of these early table tops with an important point:  all three are isolated pieces, they have no connection (unless to Munich) to any  known centres of scagliola production, either before or until long after their dates of manufacture.  By way of contrast, Blasius Pfeiffer’s early work initiated a scagliola workshop and dynasty within the Munich court that lasted for one hundred and fifty years.  The quality he achieved raised his artificio to the status of a prestige material that was  considered fit for royalty, and the methods he used established procedures and standards that would set a benchmark for the future of scagliola.

 

4. Carlo di Cesare del Palagio’s Activities in Dresden and Mantua.

Dr. Diemer has traced Carlo di Cesare del Palagio’s movements during the 1590s and suggests that he played an important role in introducing Stückmarmor (here distinguished from ‘inlaid’  scagliola) to the courts of Dresden and Mantua.  

In 1590 he was called to Dresden to work for Elector Christian I of Saxony (r.1586-91), under the direction of the Swiss artistic director Giovanni Maria Nosseni (1544-1620).  He provided figures in bronze and terracotta for the Wettin funeral monument in Freiberg Cathedral, and portrait busts and other sculptures for the Dresden Lusthaus (Pleasure Pavilion).  Stückmarmor was used in both locations.  The Wettin memorial has survived, but the Lusthaus was blown to smithereens in 1794 in a gunpowder accident.

Dr. Diemer makes the point (similar to Michaela Liebhardt’s – see above) that  there was no Stückmarmor produced in this part of Germany before Carlo’s stay, nor was there any for a long time afterwards.  This implies that the Italian stuccadore had a hand in the early introduction of the material to Saxony, but when he left the secret went with him.

Carlo returned to Munich in 1593 to work (once more alongside Hubert Gerhardt) on another bronze funeral monument, this time for Duke Wilhelm V.  The project was abandoned when Wilhelm abdicated in 1597, and under the new Duke Maximilian I, Carlo was forced to seek work elsewhere.  An excessive demand for outstanding payments was rejected, and he left Bavaria with debts to his name and a judicial warrant out for his arrest.  He returned to Italy and found new employment in Mantua with Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga (r.1587-1612).  He died there the following year, probably from plague.

The Gonzagas were related by mariage to the Wittelsbachs and relations between the two ruling families were good.  Vincenzo had visited Munich in 1595 and doubtless been impressed by Prince Wilhelm’s scagliola-lined chapel.  In 1597 his representative at the Munich court, Astor Leoncelli, was charged with obtaining scagliola recipes, samples and a maestro.  Leoncelli advised his master that it was the maestro who was all-important, not the samples and recipes.  From the correspondence it appears that the newly-crowned Maximilian was open to the idea of sending Blasius; but then news arrived that Carlo, now in Mantua, had already arranged for another man to come, and the project to send Blasius was dropped.

This other man was almost certainly Augustin Übelherr, who appears in Pronner’s Malbuch in the late 1580s, working with a labourer alongside Blasius in Duke Wilhelm’s chapel.  Dr. Diemer equates him with the ‘German maestro of finto marmo (false marble)’ who, according to a Mantuan court document, was completing the funerary monument of the Gonzagas in the Basilica of Sant’Andrea in 1599.  She also suggests he was the probable supplier of the scagliola pilasters installed in the Galleria della Mostra of the Palazzo Ducale around the same time.  (It is tempting to think that Carlo, unable to prise Blasius from the Munich court, had put Übelherr forward for the Dresden scagliola as well.  As scagliola’s first journeyman, Übelherr had little hope of advancement in Munich, where Blasius was the undisputed maestro.   Only by working for courts beyond Bavaria could Übelherr advance his own career).

Note: In 1612 Duke Vincenzo I Gonzaga was buried next to his wife  in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, an area of the church dedicated to the preservation of the holy relic of the Blood of Christ.  There is no trace of his funerary monument today.
   Following damage sustained during the 2012 earthquake, the Galleria della Mostra remains closed for repairs and conservation.  The door-linings to the Room of Cupid and Psyche shown in the adjacent images are the oldest-looking scagliola to be found in the palace complex at present.  Perhaps they are by Augustin Übelherr; if so, they bear little resemblance to the work of his master in Munich.

References:  Erwin Neumann:  Materialen zur Geschichte der  Scagliola in ‚Jahrbuch der  Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien’, 55, 1959 pp. 75-152.
Michaela Liebhardt, Die Münchener Scagliolaarbeiten des 17. Und 18. Jahrhunderts, Inaugural Dissertation zur Erlangung des  Doktorgrades de Pohilosophie an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität zu München – Aus München 1987.
Dorothea Diemer, Hubert Gerhard und Carlo di Cesare del Palagio, Bronzeplastiker der Spätrenaissance – Berlin 2004. Vol. I pp.38-43, 133-136, 253-277, 285-320, 332-336.

Glyptic Art.  A Lapis Lazuli vessel with gold and enamel mounts.  Florence c.1580.  Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Lower and middle section of an Ornamental Cabinet with Florentine Pietre Dure columns and inlaid panels on ivory veneers.  Augsburg 1660-70.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Florentine Pietre Dure Tabletop celebrating the elevation of Duke Maximilian I  to Elector c. 1633.  Scagliola inlays in black timber frame.  Stone Rooms, Munich Residence.*

Elector Maximilian’s coat of arms showing electoral cross and orb.*

The Antiquarium, Munich Residenz.*

Statuary Busts on plinths with black scagliola nameplates. Some of these nameplates may be original; if so, they could be the oldest known scagliola artefacts in existence.*

Scagliola tabletop c. 1590.  The Salzburg Museum, Salzburg. (Reflections of former Prince Bishops can be seen in the protective glass cover.)  

Inlaid scagliola slab c. 1600.  Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg. 

Detail of the Marble Floor, The Reichskapelle, Munich Residence.*

Floral design for a Pietre Dure table top by Jacopo Ligozzi.  Oil on Paper c. 1610-20. Oppificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence.

Scagliola wall panels by Blasius Pfeiffer (c. 1604).  Pictorial scagliola and flower vases by Wilhelm Pfeiffer (c. 1630).  The Reiche Kapelle,  Munich Residence.*

Images of the Wettin Funerary Monument can be found on the Freiberg Cathedral website at:
www.freiberger-dom-app.de/chor/moritzmonument-und-nossenichor

One of four bronze soldiers guarding the cenotaph of Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria (1282-1347) in the Frauenkirche, Munich.  The figures, by Hubert Gerhard and Carlo del Palagio, were commissioned by Duke Wilhelm V in the mid-1590s to form part of his own funeral monument, which was to be built in the Jesuit Church of St. Michael.  The project was abandoned by his son  Duke Maximilian I on grounds of cost. 

Scagliola door-lining in the Room of Cupid and Psyche in the Palazzo Ducale, Mantua.  The work is basic in design and execution and may  date back to the late 1590s when the ‘German maestro of finto marmo’ was at work.

* © Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung, www.schloesser.bayern.de
Photos by Richard Feroze.

Florentine Pietre Dure Tabletop celebrating the elevation of Duke Maximilian I  to the title of Elector c. 1633.  Scagliola inlays in black timber frame.  Stone Rooms, Munich Residence.*