Workshop “Image & Text”

Hole Rößler
Historisches Museum am Hohen Ufer Hannover, Bildarchiv, WM XXX, I (6) (mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Niedersächsischen Landesmuseums Hannover).

At the Historical Museum AM HOHEN UFER in Hannover, there is a document which represents a unique example of the diverse interweave of text and image in portrait form. It is a portrait of Duke August the Younger of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1579-1666), sketched by Heinrich Julius Willershausen, who served as the Wolfenbüttel court secretary from 1645 to 1670. Apart from a few exceptions, the contours of the Duke, book, writing utensil, angel and the poet’s laurel are comprised of script, or more precisely, verses of psalms. Willershausen apparently used a drawing by the court painter Albert Freyse as a model, from which Jonas Suyderhoff also created a copperplate engraving around 1646.

This portrait, which might appear as if the artist had taken the Horacian formula ut pictura poesis (“a poem is like a picture”) a bit too literally, is an early example of so-called “micrographies, a group of once popular medial hybrid depictions to which the better known Baroque figural poems also belong.[1] In view of its remarkable position on the threshold between a pictorial text and a textual picture, Willershausen’s author portrait comprises all of the main topics to be discussed at the first workshop of the MWW research project Politics of the Image – Authors’ Portraits and Iconic Authorisation. At the workshop, titled “Image and Text” on 12-13 March, researchers from the fields of art history and literary studies will meet at the Herzog August Library Wolfenbüttel to present their findings on the forms, functions and history of authors’ portraits with respect to text-image relationships.


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Picture credits

Historical Museum Am hohen Ufer in Hannover, Image archive, WM XXX, I (6) (with kind permission of the Lower Saxon State Museum of Hannover).






[1] Also see Friedrich Polleroß. “Schrift-Bilder. Zum Werk des Mikrographen Johann Michael Püchler d. J. (1679-1709)”. Beständig im Wandel. Innovationen – Verwandlungen – Konkretisierungen. Festschrift für Karl Möseneder zum 60. Geburtstag. Edited by Christian Hecht. Berlin, 2009, 261-281; Jeremy Adler and Ulrich Ernst. Text als Figur. Visuelle Poesie von der Antike bis zur Moderne. Wolfenbüttel, 1987.