About the project

Besides being a particularly precious part of the collection, the Individual Graphic Sheets of the Albrecht Haupt Collection (GESAH) are so unique and cover such a broad contextual and technical spectrum that they offer the greatest potential to international researchers of construction and fine arts. And yet this collection is only known to a very small circle of experts who were only able to use parts of it for their work. The key problems are the lack of specialist indexing and the difficulty in accessing the sheets. In this respect, the collection’s heterogeneity poses the greatest challenge.

After having been rearranged several times and reorganised in part over the past decades, the Individual Graphic Sheets are presently arranged only rudimentarily by formal and geographical criteria, and indexed in a card file system. Since it is not possible to systematically access the graphic sheets by content or to specifically search them by subject, their usability is severely restricted. The aim of the project is to fully digitise this high-quality stock of Individual Graphic Sheets from the collection that researchers from home and abroad have found difficult to access in the past. In the future, the items will be indexed by subject and made freely accessible online in a bid to give new impetus to research in this area.

Inadequately indexed graphics collections such as the Albrecht Haupt Collection are predestined for collaborative processing with the use of digital and virtual methods, because they appeal to different (expert) communities. Processing is therefore carried out in close cooperation with project partners from various specialist disciplines who are based at various departments of TIB and at the Chair of History of Architecture and Urban Development at Leibniz Universität Hannover’s Institute for History and Theory of Architecture.

The project is composed of three main task fields and objectives:

1. Digitisation

Objects from the Individual Graphic Sheets of the Albrecht Haupt Collection that have not yet been digitised will be digitised in line with the DFG Practical Guidelines and ingested to the Rosetta Digital Archive.

2. Indexing

a. Basic indexing will be carried out for all Individual Graphic Sheets based on existing information and provisional attributions.

b. The part of the collection containing unique architectural drawings will undergo thorough specialist indexing. In this connection, the provenance history and the genesis of the collection will be investigated for the first time.

3. Indexing environment

On the basis of Vitro software, an indexing environment (GESAH website with links via the TIB Portal) that meets the specialist requirements will be created for processing in an expert dialogue that is independent of space and time. This development should set the technical conditions and indexing environment for the further thorough indexing of the whole GESAH collection for subsequent projects. Data, data models and software should also be made available open source to comparable indexing projects.

Object of the month

August 2022

Francesco Piranesi (1758–1810) attr.,

Landscape with ancient monuments ("Tomba di Nerone")

Pen-and-ink drawing, 2nd half of 18th cent.

30,0 cm x 24,2 cm

TIB, Slg. A. Haupt, m I Z M 3

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Grab des Nero, Blatt 3 der Serie „Grotteschi“ (1747/49) (Foto: © Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kupferstichkabinett, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0, "Grotteschi", ed. Paris um 1835, Tafel 3)

The pen-and-ink drawing shows an antique Roman funerary monument with conspicuous relief decoration enthroned on a massive plinth on a hill. Its ruinous condition is accentuated by the rampant vegetation, an overturned altar in the foreground and a single already brittle basket capital from which acanthus is sprouting. A gnarled pine tree rises from the stone relics, and in the background on the right the substructures of a monumental complex are fading.

The sheet is closely related to an etching from the four-sheet series of the so-called "Grotteschi", which Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1707 –1778) created and published between 1747 and 1749. The etching "Tomba di Nerone" (Fig. 1) shows the same monuments. G. B. Piranesi combines them as a capriccio with other antiquities and fantastic elements such as a dolphin lying over a wall and numerous writhing snakes, creating a threatening ominous mood. In its form and setting, the tomb is reminiscent of the tomb of Publius Vibius Marianus in Rome, but differs in the details of the distinctive reliefs. Located on the Via Cassia and initially misinterpreted as the tomb of Nero (Tomba di Nerone), it was and still is known  – and found  – under this name. G. B. Piranesi adopts the high corner acroteria of the monument of P. Vibius Marianus, its relief-decorated inscription panel and the positioning on the hill, but chooses forms for the decoration of his representation, such as the fascia bundles or the clasped hands with caduceus, which are not to be found on the original but have indeed been handed down from ancient reliefs. Moreover, his inscription actually refers to Nero. For the "Grotesque", Piranesi, as it were, invents a fictitious funerary monument of Nero from antique fragments and makes use of the association and common equation with the real tomb of P. Vibius Marianus.

The pen-and-ink drawing, which faithfully copies G. B. Piranesi's invention, was acquired by Albrecht Haupt at the auction of Heinrich Lempertz senior's collection of hand drawings (J. M. Heberle, 17 October 1905, lot no. 450). The sheet bears the collector's stamp H. Lempertz on the verso (Lugt 1337). Haupt mounted, as he did more often, two small cuttings from the auction catalogue on the lower margin of the backing board: they contain the artist's details "Giamb. Piranesi (1707 –1778)" and the description of the lot "‘Landschaft‘ mit Ruinen, verfallenen Monumenten etc. – H 340, Br 250 mm. Vollendete ausgeführte Federzeichnung". Haupt changed the attribution in pencil and replaced "Giamb." with "Francesco". With the attribution to the son Francesco Piranesi (1758 –1810) it was clear to Haupt that the drawing must have been made after his father's etching. By dispensing with the obviously grotesque pictorial elements, the draughtsman presents the monument in the manner of a Roman veduta: the focus, however, is on a fictitious tomb, which  – unlike in the decidedly eclectic model of the "Grottesche"  – becomes a curiosity.

Birte Rubach