Johannes Carl Zay

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Johannes Carl Zay
Album Amicorum
Leaves: 5 3/4 x 3 3/4 inches (145 x 95 mm); binding: 6 x 4 inches (155 x 100 mm)
Purchased on the Edwin H. Herzog Fund.
Swiss private collection; from whom acquired by Dr. Thomas Franz Schneider, Basel (until 2001); Hugo Wetscherek, Vienna; Emanuel von Baeyer, London.

Begun in 1678, this album was assembled by the Swiss sculptor Johannes Carl Zay and kept over a five-year period during his travels as a journeyman in Ulm, Augsburg, Salzburg, Ried, and elsewhere. The album contains twenty-two drawings by friends and acquaintances of the artist, including painters, sculptors, and goldsmiths. Most of the drawings are signed and dated, and complemented by dedications on the facing page. Although the album amicorum--literally, book of friendship--was common among traveling artists, especially in Germany and the Low Countries in the seventeenth century, today an intact example is very rare indeed. The majority that appear on the art market are taken apart in order that the individual drawings may be sold. On p. 45, the memento mori--a reminder of the passing of time and the inevitability of death--is a copy after one of the famous illustrations from Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corpori Fabrica (1542).

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