Dietterlin, Wendel

Title Architectura von Außtheilung...
Imprint Nuremberg, H. & B. Caimox, 1598
Localisation Heidelberg, Ruprecht-Karls Universitätsbibliothek, 83 B 945 Res
Subject Chimneys, Doors, Gates, Orders
Transcribed version of the text


     The complete edition of the Architectura with more than two hundred etchings was published in Nuremberg in 1598, after the two partial editions of 1593 and 1595. The book came out in three forms: the present edition in German with a title page in red and black at the presses of Hubert and Balthasar Caimox, another with a title page printed in black and with only the name of Balthasar Caimox, and one edition in Latin and French. The colophon (missing in the online copy at the Zentralbibliothek of Zurich) does not mention Hubert’s name. Moreover there are several versions of the intermediate title pages at the beginning of the five books devoted to the five orders of architecture.
This is essentially a graphic book; only a few short texts interpret the plates at the beginning of the book and introduce each of the five sections which develop the Serlian orders. For each one, Dietterlin begins by giving a diagram of the proportions, inspired by Hans Blum’s method. He completes these geometric data very systematically with suggestions for the decorative elements and for each one he creates variations for the supports (columns, caryatids and terms) and entablatures, then examples of windows and dormers, chimneypieces, portals, fountains, and lastly tombs, altars and altarpieces. The treatment is extremely ornate. A painter above all, Dietterlin gave greater emphasis to the heavy proliferation of ornaments on the parts of the orders and on the architectural structures, and to the picturesque details of individuals, animals and familiar objects which give life to the buildings. The Serlian classification of the five orders, from the most rustic to the most elegant, is the opportunity to develop multiple decorative elements, often very original: all sorts of rustication are associated with the Tuscan order, but also a winemaker (pl. 6), an elephant (pl. 18), and a stag and a unicorn (pl. 24), as images representing rustic power and the wilderness. The image of the winemaker takes on another meaning which Dietterlin borrows from Hans Blum. It is also a portrait of Noah, considered moreover the ancestor of the Etruscans, i.e. the “Tusci” who gave rise to the “Teutschen”. Thus the Tuscan order became the German national order. The four other orders are treated in a similar way, with a regular increase in refinement and ornamental delicacy: the Doric is warlike, the Ionic matronly, the Corinthian virginal. As for the composite, it allows for numerous combinations which bring in, among others, elements of a Gothic frame of mind, like the plant shapes of the Astwerk, interlacing of sculpted branches, very popular in the art of central Europe (pl. 196, 197, 203).
In the principle of the distribution of forms according to the five orders, Dietterlin is perfectly Serlian. The architect from Bologna is also at the origin of this type of publication: the Regole generali (Quarto libro) of 1537 associate in the same way the orders as such with portals, chimneypieces and aedicules. But the concern for strictness in the classification linked up with great imagination and ornamental freedom in the Architectura was inherited from the Extraordinario libro published in 1551, which moreover provides certain architectural structures. The German seems to have particularly appreciated Serlio’s arch XVI, with its two pediments crowning the lateral parts, and which is the subject of several variations (pl. 68, 71, 73, 112, 154). It is difficult not to see a connection between door XXII and plate 153, and door XVIII and plate 155. The niches of the portal in plate 111 probably come from arch XIV.
Another source must be mentioned which puts Dietterlin in connection with France: Jacques Androuet du Cerceau. The presentation of the entablatures in plates 49, 50, 98 and 99 is entirely similar to that adopted by the Frenchman in his “Détails d’ordres d’architecture”. And the Second livre d’architecture published in Paris in 1561 especially constitutes a precedent inasmuch as, like the Architectura, it gives models of chimneypieces, dormers, doors and windows, fountains, wells, residences and sepulchres. Outside of the sausages added by Dietterlin, the chimneypiece in plate 21 repeats characteristic elements of a model by the Frenchman, the supports shaped like amphorae with heads and the oval designs on the mantelpiece. Other collections could have inspired the German: the idea of the pediment with the inverted sloping cornices used in plate 19 could come from a collection of “meubles” in which du Cerceau gives two comparable models, in one of which there is a door ajar, as in Dietterlin’s engraving.
The Architectura fits perfectly into the northern European taste of the end of the 16th century. Hugues Sambin’s terms and caryatids (Œuvre de la diversité des termes, 1572) and the zoomorphic supports by Joseph Boillot (Nouveaux pourtraitz et figures de termes, 1592, translated into German in 1604), are decorated just as much. In Flanders, Hans Vredeman de Vries had published his Architectura in Antwerp in 1577. Other similar undertakings had appeared in Germany at the same time, in particular the Etliche architectischer Portalen by Veit Ecken, published in 1596 in Cologne. The heavily decorative style of the book inspired numerous Germanic authors, such as Johann Jacob Ebelmann (Lehr- und Kunstbuch allerhant Portalen, Reisbetten, und Epitaphien, 1600), Gabriel Kramer (Architectura, 1600), Rutger Kasemann (Seilen bochg darin gieziert seilen unt termen sin, 1616, translated into French in 1622) and Jacob Guckeisen (Seilen Buch, 1598). In practice, many buildings were inspired by Dietterlin’s plates: in the northern Europe of the 16th century, building in the antique style boiled down to creating a portal (Forssman, 1956, p. 73), and the Architectura offered many models which can be found in Germany as well as in Denmark (Albrecht 2002) and in England (Wells-Cole 1997). In Flanders and in Holland, six plates with models of the five orders and Tuscan consoles (n° 6, 11, 46, 95, 272 and 176 of the present book) were reused in the bilingual editions of Hans Blum’s treatise published in Antwerp and Amsterdam starting in 1619.

Yves Pauwels (Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours) – 2012

Critical bibliography

U. Albrecht, “L’influence des traités et des ordres sur le vocabulaire décoratif de l’architecture de la Renaissance. Le cas des pays nordiques”, M.-C. Heck, F. Lemerle et Y. Pauwels (ed.), Théorie des arts et création artistique dans l’Europe du Nord du XVIe au début du XVIIe siècle, Villeneuve d’Ascq, PUL, 2002, pp. 33-53.

H. G. Evers, introduction to the facsimile reissue of the Architectura (Nuremberg, 1598), Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1965.

E. Forssman, Säule und Ornament Studien zum Problem des Manierismus in den nordischen Säulenbüchern und Vorlageblättern des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts, Stockholm/Uppsala, Almqvist & Wiksell, 1956.

E. Forssman, “Wendel Dietterlin, Maler und Architekturtheoretiker”, N. Riegel & D. Dombrowski (ed.), Architektur und Figur. Das Zusammenspiel der Künste; Festschrift für Stefan Kummer zum 60. Geburtstag, Munich, Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2007, pp. 202-215.

G. U. Großmann, “Die verschiedenen Ausgaben der Architectura des Wendel Dietterlin”, Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, 1997, pp. 157-73.

G. Irmscher, Kölner Architektur- und Säulenbücher um 1600, Bonn, Bouvier, 1999.

M. Pirr, Die Architectura des Wendel Dietterlin (thesis, Berlin, 1940), Gräfenhainichen, Schulze, s.d. [1940].

K. Skelton, “Shaping the book and the building: text and image in Dietterlin’s Architectura”, Word & Image, 2007, 23, 1, pp. 25-44.

S. Vieten-Kreuels, “Wendel Dietterlin”, H. Günther (ed.), Deutsche Architekturtheorie zwischen Gothik und Renaissance, Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1988, pp. 156-163.

A. Wells-Cole, Art and Decoration in Elizabethan and Jacobean England: The Influence of Continental Prints, 1558–1625, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1997, pp. 28–29.

A. von Zahn, “Wendel Dietterlins Säulenbuch”, Archiv für die zeichnenden Künste, 9, 1863, pp. 97-108.