Neville: Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and German Artists in Sweden in the Age of the Thirty Years´ War
I am interested in the art and architecture in the early-modern period, especially ca 1500-1750. I am particularly interested in the artistic production of the German lands, which, in cultural terms, at least, I take to include Scandinavia. Specifically, I am interested in the artistic coherence in this broader region, and the reasons for which it should – or should not – be considered as a coherent grouping, as well as the consequences of this reorganization for the way we think about the art of this broader region.
The inclusion of Copenhagen and Stockholm (the only significant centers of artistic production in Scandinavia before the nineteenth century) among the German courts benefits both parts of this larger region, although it runs counter to much of the earlier, nation-based literature on the material. The Holy Roman Empire was never an absolute boundary, and in any case the Scandinavian kingdoms were intimately involved in imperial affairs; the King of Denmark, was also a Prince of the Empire, and the Swedish monarchs, as rulers of Pomerania after 1648, held a similar position. In artistic terms, many or most of the artists active in the Copenhagen and Stockholm came from the Empire. From the point of view of the arts in the Empire – which through later historical events became transformed into ‘German art’ – the important production in Copenhagen and then Stockholm in the seventeenth century goes far towards offsetting what has traditionally been seen as the weakest period in German art history. These courts also served as important models for other rulers in the Empire; the formation of royal Berlin is particularly difficult to explain without reference to Stockholm. For Copenhagen and Stockholm, the benefit of this scheme is that they find a more secure place in a European history of art as contributors to a larger whole. No longer are expected to show all of the facets and depth expected of an independent school of art, in which, in comparison with France or Spain, they are bound to come up short. The downside from the Scandinavian point of view, of course, is the same as the benefit: the loss of the status of a supposedly independent school, which is deeply ingrained in Scandinavian historical writing and, although mitigated in recent decades, is still prevalent.