UBC Theses and Dissertations
Festival representation beyond words : the Stuttgart baptism of 1616 Thomsett, Andrea Irma Irene
The representation of a Stuttgart court festival in a fascinating book of prints has received no art historical attention. The cultural production of German lands in a complex and obscure time described by one historian as being particularly bereft of "textbook facts", has not elicited much scholarly interest. In the seventeenth century before confessional disputes within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation turned into armed conflict, small German territorial courts modelled themselves on and assumed the courtly style of the larger European courts. The Stuttgart baptism of 1616 presents an interesting case study of the use of a courtly spectacle by a secondary court at a time of great instability. The baptism festival served as a stage to display an alliance of some German Protestant princes that held a promise of international support for the Protestant cause. The Wurttemberg court commissioned lengthy texts and a large number of engravings to represent the event. This study will address the contributions made by printed images to the festival program. The key documents for this study are the texts which complement and at times diverge from the visual representation. The differences between the visual and textual material will serve to locate the function of the visual representation of a festival held at a time of impending conflict. The triumphal procession format of the engravings discloses a strategy of disenfranchisement of a powerful parliament while it serves to assert the rank of the court within and outside the German empire. The complex amalgams of imagery that are interspersed in the paper procession allude, I suggest, to the problems presented to the Wurttemberg court by an uneasy alliance of Protestant courts within the empire. The engravings served to encode references to problematic issues such as the survival of the Holy Roman Empire, the rights of Protestant territorial princes to form an alliance and the hopes for outside help for the Protestant cause.