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5.2 Peter Pott as Art Collector

The mentioned large financial loss of 1762 was not just an overture to Pott’s career switch. It also appears to have brought a temporary (?) halt to his activities as art collector.1 On 12 May 1762 an auction of his possessions took place in the Pott residence at 37 Poggenpfuhl (Żabi Kruk),2 located in the old city center of Danzig. Von Holst mentioned the auction in an appendix to an article of 1934,3 naming ten paintings that were part of the auction and giving the proceeds and purchaser for some of the works, which gives us greater insight into the group of active collectors in Danzig at the time. The mentioned works are the following:

  • Spagnoletto, Christ Teaching in the Temple  (Christus lehrt im Tempel) (purchased for fl. 231 by Uphagen)
  • Spagnoletto, Lutenist (Lautenspieler) (bought for fl. 61 by Schumann)
  • Salomon Wegner, Head (Kopf)
  • Jos.[eph] Heintz, Diana at her Bath (Bad der Diana)
  • 'D. Schönfeldt', Diana
  • 4 Passion pieces painted on both sides [from a summary of altdeutsche Sammelneigungen]
  • Ecce Homo on gold background (Ecce Home auf Goldgrund) [idem]

Unfortunately it is not possible to identify the majority of these paintings because of a lack of concrete information. For the five so-called ‘altdeutsche’ works, for instance, the names of the artist and for the greater part also the subject matter are lacking.4 In view of the quotations marks, the painting of the goddess Diana given to a certain D. Schönfeld must have been deemed to be a debatable attribution. In addition, we know of no Schönfeldt with the initial ‘D’.5 Given the subject of the painting, it could have been a work by the German artist Heinrich Schönfeld (1609-1684), who rendered several versions of this theme during his stay in Rome and after his return from Italy.6 In his monograph on Joseph Heintz I, Zimmer included the painting with Diana as its subject among the lost works known only from the literature.7 According to Zimmer, it may well have been one of the numerous copies of the Diana and Actaeon by Joseph Heintz I in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna or else an engraving of the same subject after Joseph Heintz I by Egidius Sadeler II (1570-1629).8   



[1]

Pott cannot have been financially comfortable in the years after the 1763 bankruptcy. Even after he entered the service of the Seehandlungsgeschellschaft in 1772, he must at first have had limited financial elbow room. His salary at the time, 200 thalers monthly, was hardly sufficient to maintain his family. Some years later, as a consequence of his promotion, his financial position improved. With his leading position with the Elbing branch from 1777 he earned 700 thalers a month (Straubel 2012, p. 519, n. 1424 and p. 520).

[2]

The current Polish street names are taken from: http://www.narodowa.pl/Ksiazki/21/zd1.htm (consulted: October 2013).

[3]

Von Holst 1934, p. 68. The auction catalogue is not included in Lugt 1938-1987 or in Ketelsen/Von Stockhausen/Fredericksen 2002, although Von Holst’s article does appear in the bibliography. The catalogue also goes missing in Art Sales Catalogues Online (ASCO), the continuation of Lugt’s Répertoire. This may be because the name of the collector was not found in the catalogue, so that Von Holst could only reconstruct it by coupling the auction and address data in the catalogue to the names of the home owners in the so-called ‘Grundbuch’, which was located in the city archives of Danzig in 1934. In addition, Von Holst’s report that he made use of ‘Akten’, suggests that it was not a printed catalogue but a written manuscript.

[4]

Given that they were painted on both sides, the four paintings with subjects taken from Christ’s Passion were probably part of an altarpiece. In view of the gold background, the Ecce Homo was probably a work of the late 14th or 15th century.

[5]

The David Schönfeld mentioned in AKLONLINE was active only as a goldsmith.

[6]

No fewer than three paintings with this subject are found in the collection of the Städtische Kunstsammlungen Augsburg, inv. nos. 12144, L 767 and L 769 (Von Knorre/Krämer 1984, pp. 223-226). Another possible creator is one Jacob Schönfelt (1707/1709- after 25 March 1766). Because the latter was still alive at the time of the auction and painted mainly still-lives and allegorical depictions, this suggestion seems unlikely. See AKLONLINE, headword Schönfelt, Jacob.

[7]

Zimmer 1967, p. 342, no. D31 and Zimmer 1971, p. 154, cat. no. D32.

[8]

For the work in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, see Zimmer 1971, p. 94, cat. no. A16. For the engraving by Egidius II Sadeler based on it, see Zimmer 1971, p. 94, cat. no. A 16.0.1.1.

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