- Friedrich Sustris
- Mercury catching sight of Herse
- Pen and black ink and grey wash; arched top
T. Vignau-Wilberg, In Europa Zu Hause - Niederländer in München um 1600 / Citizens of Europe: Dutch and Flemish Artists in Munich c.1600, exh. cat., Munich, Neue Pinakothek, 2005-6, pp. 158, 196 note 14
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Sustris occupied a crucial position as chief architect at the Bavarian court of Duke William V (1579-1597), who embarked on a highly ambitious building programme through which he intended to establish his court, and the Residenz Palace that lay at its heart, as one of the grandest and most cultivated in all Europe. Having supervised the construction of the Witwenstock (Widow Wing) for the dowager Duchess Anna, in 1581-86 Sustris oversaw the design and decoration of the four wings of the Grottenhof. This courtyard, which takes its name from the grotto on the western façade of the Antiquarium, was one of no fewer than ten such courtyards in this huge complex. Although Sustris made the designs for these extraordinary buildings, the gardens that stood within them, the fountains and the surrounding decorations, these works were largely executed by a team of highly skilled artists that he had assembled, Netherlandish, Italian and German masters who had all trained in Italy; the frescoes were mainly painted by Pieter Candid, Antonio Maria Viani, Alessandro Padovano, Antonio Ponzano and Christoph Schwarz.
The theme of the eastern hall of the Grottenhof, for which this is a study, was all-conquering love: in the passage illustrated here, taken from the second book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, we read how Mercury, observing a festival in honour of Athena, falls in love with her sister Herse. For the most complete account of the Grottenhof and the relatively few designs for it that survive, see Thea Vignau-Wilberg's extensive chapter in the 2005-6 Munich exhibition catalogue.3
1. O. Benesch, Beschriebender Katalog der Handzeichnungen in der Graphischen Sammlung Albertina, vol. II, Die Zeichnungen der niederländischen Schulen des XV. und XVI. Jahrhunderts, Vienna 1928, p. 20, nos. 142-149, reproduced pls. 40-41
2. Vignau-Wilberg, op. cit., pp. 158-9, no. C 7
3. idem., pp. 142-197