Rezension über:

Agnieszka Gasior: Erfolgreiche Einwanderer. Künstlermigration im Ostseeraum in der Frühen Neuzeit (= Studia Jagellonica Lipsiensia; 22), Dresden: Sandstein Verlag 2022, 302 S., ISBN 978-3-95498-646-0, EUR 49,00
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Rezension von:
Burkhard Kunkel
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Christoph Schutte
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Burkhard Kunkel: Rezension von: Agnieszka Gasior: Erfolgreiche Einwanderer. Künstlermigration im Ostseeraum in der Frühen Neuzeit, Dresden: Sandstein Verlag 2022, in: sehepunkte 23 (2023), Nr. 12 [15.12.2023], URL:

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Agnieszka Gasior: Erfolgreiche Einwanderer

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A number of important works have already been published on the subject of "Migration in the Middle Ages," with reference to the Baltic region and also art production and art trade. [1] For the early modern period, developments in the history of ideas may take on a special position as cultural transfers, especially in the transmission of knowledge in connection with the spread of the Reformation [2], whose most important carriers were identified in the history of books and libraries. [3] It is generally known that cultural transfers moved along traditionally established (mediation) paths of trade, handicrafts and pilgrimage, and that technical innovations also spread with them. [4]

A more comprehensive work on the migration of artists in the Baltic region in the early modern period has therefore been long awaited. Starting from the economic attraction of the cities in the Hanseatic League, the metropolises of the Baltic Sea countries of Sweden, Denmark, Courland, Poland and Livonia in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, the editors Agnieszka Gąsior and Julia Trinkert, together with renowned scholars, pursue the question of how artist migration concretely took place in the region at that time. "What motivated the artists to migrate and what were their destinations? What made a place attractive to the arrivals? Did the artists stay in their new place of work, did they return to their homeland or did they perhaps even migrate further? What artistic development did they take in their new home and what role did they play there? How did they integrate locally?" (7-8).

In her contribution "Nach Reval: Von der Migration der Künstler," Krista Kodres traces the biographies of some of the city's important (immigrant) painters and sculptors and addresses their not always conflict-free circumstances in the context of local guilds; Trinkert introduces the house architect of the Dohna family in East Prussia who immigrated from the Neumark; Stefanie Schuldt provides evidence of the "import of knowledge" to Sweden through the journey of the architect Göran Josuӕ Adelcrantz from Stockholm via Paris to Rome in 1704-1706, a journey which is well and fully documented through the transcription and translation of his letters (66-121); Konrad Ottenheym documents the international reach of Cornelis Floris and Hendrick de Keyser through their work in northern Europe, especially on behalf of Duke Albrecht in Königsberg; Franciszek Skibiński examines mobility and artistic exchange in East Prussia against the background of the metropolitan region of Danzig in the period between 1550 and 1650; Constanze Köster uses the example of Rembrandt's pupil Ovens to show how the Nordic Wars, for example, affected art transfers between Holland and Schleswig Holstein; in his contribution "Der Stettiner Herzogshof um 1600 als Ziel und Station künstlerischer Wandlungen," Rafał Makała clarifies art-political representation and competitive behavior vis-à-vis neighboring imperial courts; Elita Grosmane's contribution "Die Migration von Bildhauern und das Erstarken barocker Bildhauerwerkstätten in Kurland und Riga" concentrates in particular on the influence of confessional change on the migration of artists in her area of study from the end of the sixteenth century onwards. Gąsior dedicates her contribution to the well-known Sebastian Dadler and his European patrons, providing an excellent example of the far-reaching mobility and economic networks of what was indeed an "exceptional medallist;" following this, and remaining in the genre of goldsmiths, coin cutters and medallists, Ylva Haidenthaller opens with "Einblicke in die Künstlerimmigration nach Stockholm im 17. Jahrhundert;" with its unusual title "Oberbayern im Ostseeraum: Betrachtungen zur Verbreitung von Arbeiten Wessobrunner Stuckateure im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert," Torsten Veit concludes the series of contributions and provides the very interesting evidence of artist migration from Bavaria to Mecklenburg, Poland, Pomerania and Courland.

All contributions are provided with illustrations, some of them in color, as well as with notes and special references to literature and, in some cases, corresponding maps. The volume concludes with a detailed name and place index in which abbreviations, historical place names and field names are explained and can thus be easily located.

The initial questions posed by the editors about the motivation for and the goals of artists' migrations, the attractiveness of the destinations and their significance for the individual artists as a place of transit or permanent activity, and for their artistic development are answered in full and precisely on the basis of specific people and concrete works. Moreover, the reader learns how the artists integrated into the existing conditions at the destination. The diverse case studies paint a vivid picture of the extensive and often branching migratory movements of well-known artistic personalities. We are, as it were, taken into their tangible working and living conditions, and we gain a comprehensive idea of their influence, their imprint and finally their impact on art in the area under investigation from the end of the sixteenth century up to the eighteenth century.

And, although the connection of the title concept of "successful immigrants" as an expression for socio-cultural integration achievements of immigrants to current contexts of understanding may not have been intended; although, for example, imperial, Hanseatic, courtly, or regional political characteristics must be considered at times, the reading of this extremely rich and extremely exciting book is worthwhile in any case. It fills a so far only perceived desideratum and fits seamlessly into the aforementioned research. And I ask the gentle readers for addition and reference to the further, much more extensive bases of (English-speaking) Baltic, Scandinavian, Polish, and Russian research, which I have neglected to consider.


[1] Cf., for example, Michael Borgolte (ed.): Migrationen im Mittelalter, Berlin 2017; Jan von Bonsdorff: Kunstproduktion und Kunstverbreitung im Ostseeraum des späten Mittelalters, Helsingfors 1993; see also Carsten Jahnke: Der Handel mit Kunst in den hansischen Netzwerken um 1500, in: Hansische Identitäten, ed. by Kerstin Petermann / Anja Rasche et al., Petersberg 2018, 105-111.

[2] Otfried Czaika / Heinrich Holze (eds.): Migration und Kulturtransfer im Ostseeraum während der Frühen Neuzeit, Stockholm 2012; Gert Haendler: Die Ausbreitung der Reformation in den Ostseeraum und Johannes Bugenhagen, in: Kirchliche Verbindungen über die Ostsee hinweg in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. by Heinrich Holze, Leipzig 1999, 120-139; Heinz Schilling: Die frühneuzeitliche Konfessionsmigration, in: Migration in der europäischen Geschichte seit dem späten Mittelalter, ed. by Klaus J. Bade, Osnabrück 2002, 67-89; Otfried Czaika: Die Ausbreitung der Reformation im Ostseeraum ca. 1500-1700 als Kulturtransfer, in: Czaika / Holze, 76-100.

[3] On book culture in Scandinavia, see, for example, Wolfgang Undorf: From Gutenberg to Luther: Transnational Print Cultures in Scandinavia 1450-1525, Leiden 2014; Burkhard Kunkel: Buchtransferkultur? Buchbewegungen in Städten des südlichen Ostseeraums zur Zeit der lutherischen Reformation, in: Deutsche Kultur in russischen Buch- und Handschriftenbeständen, ed. by Natalija Ganina / Daniel Könitz et al., Stuttgart 2022, 73-92.

[4] Knut Schulz: Mobilität im Handwerk - Wanderwege im Spätmittelalter, in: Europäische Technik im Mittelalter 800-1400: Tradition und Innovation, ed. by Uta Lindgren, 2nd ed., Berlin 1997, 503-508; Burkhard Kunkel: Die Kunst der lutherischen Kirchen des 16. Jahrhunderts: Medien, Mitteldinge, Monumente - eine Geschichte der materiellen Kultur, Berlin 2020, 108-109, 119.

Burkhard Kunkel