LORCK, Melchior (1526/7-after 1583). Wolgerissene und Geschnittene Figuren zu Ross und Fuss sampt schönen Türckischen Gebäwden und allerhand was in der Türckey zu sehen. Hamburg: Michael Hering, 1626.
2° (308 x 197mm). 124 woodcuts on 116 leaves, comprising: title with a woodcut of a watering trough and tower, woodcut of the author’s arms on verso, second leaf with woodcut head of Christ, verso blank, and 114 woodcut plates, including 2 folding, many with Lorck’s initials and dated between 1570 and 1583. (Browning and spotting as typical, two leaves with small tears just into image.) 17th-century vellum (new headbands, minor stains); early 20th-century slipcase.
FIRST EDITION of a rare work, providing a unique illustrative record of 16th-century Constantinople by a contemporary artist. Among the magnificent views is one of the Süleyman mosque, dedicated to the Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and consecrated during Lorck’s residence. Other subjects include archers, weaponry, horses and camels, architecture, civil costume, Sultans and Sultanas, tradespeople, mosques, and city panoramas. Lorck set off from his native Flensburg on a European tour, sent by King Christian III of Denmark in preparation to become a royal artist. His travels took him to Augsburg and the Imperial Diet, where he met Ottheinrich, Elector Palatine, to Nuremberg in the footsteps of Dürer, and to Vienna, Constantinople, Antwerp, and Hamburg before returning to Denmark at the end of his life to take up the position of King’s painter under Frederick II. His two extended stays in Constantinople as part of an Imperial embassy under Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq provided his life’s work, observations of life and architecture in the great city and military equipment and encampments observed in the field. Back in Vienna Lorck helped design elaborate coronation celebrations for Emperor Ferdinand in February 1564, who subsequently ennobled Lorck, and he was commissioned to redesign a Hamburg city gate, the Schartor. Lorck planned numerous publications, but very few came to fruition. From 1570 he commenced in earnest having his Turkish drawings transformed into woodcuts, an activity that occupied him for the rest of his life. Lorck was recognized in his own life and counted among his friends Abraham Ortelius and Philip Galle; Braun and Hogenberg pay tribute to Lorck and his work in their 1574 Civitates.
Two earlier editions of the Turkish publication were planned, as witnessed by the survival of title-pages dated 1575 and 1619, but never realised. The present number of woodcuts agrees with the Copenhagen copy reproduced in facsimile and considered complete by Fischer (2009); four additional woodcuts appeared in the 1646 edition and the majority were reprinted in later works, a Krieges-Bericht (1683-84) and Thesaurus Exoticorum (1688).
Lorck’s influence was significant, not only in providing visual documentation for a culture of great importance to western Europe but also for its artistic representation. Rembrandt owned a copy of the Turkish publication, and its influence can be seen in the work of Poussin and Stefano della Bella. Among its intended audience, as stated on the title-page, were painters, engravers, artists of all types, and art lovers.
NO COPY HAS BEEN OFFERED AT AUCTION SINCE 1917 when the Fairfax Murray copy (123 woodcuts on 114 leaves only) was sold in these rooms (10 December 1917, lot 260). The work is also rare in institutions, with VD-17 and WorldCat listing copies only at Copenhagen (3, of which 2 are imperfect), the British Library (imperfect), British Museum, Wolfenbuettel, the Russian State Library, and the Vatican. Hollstein XXII, 59 (erroneously describing editions and copies; cf Fischer III 8n for corrections); Murray, German 244; VD-17 23:295451Z.