A Cityscape Pioneer

A Tour of Nuremberg in the Footsteps of Johann Andreas Graff - Part 2: The Lorenzer Altstadt

By The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Johann Andreas Graff drawing in the Varget family's garden, Johann Andreas Graff, before 1688, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

Nuremberg artist and publisher Johann Andreas Graff (1636-1701) was married to naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian for more than 20 years. Yet in marked contrast to his famous wife, today Graff and his works have largely been forgotten. This exhibition is intended to revive a public awareness of his work. The views of Nuremberg on exhibit enchant with their impressive aesthetic quality, but also thanks to their precision and attention to detail. Not to mention that they convey a superb impression of life in Nuremberg as the 17th century drew to a close.

City map of Nuremberg, 1648 (1648) by Matthäus MerianThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

A view of Nuremberg in the mid of the 17th century.

38 Museumsbrücke

Museumsbrücke over the Pegnitz, Looking East, with Heilig-Geist-Spital (1700) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Graff presented this engraving in the same year the new stone bridge was built (1700). This view is dominated by the hospital section of the Heilig-Geist-Spital, which partially spans the river in two diaphragm arches (built by Hans Beheim the Elder from 1511 to 1527).

The coats of arms on the piers of the Baroque "Museum Bridge" paid homage to the Emperor and Empire, as well as the patrician city regiment.

Museumsbrücke across the Pegnitz, Looking West, with the Viatishaus and Fleischbrücke (1700) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The eye is drawn past the Baroque Museumsbrücke toward the Viatishaus at the left, which entirely dominates the picture (the house was completely destroyed in World War II). Graff shows this commercial building's splendid façade, with its frescoed scenes from Greek and Roman history and its numerous dormers.

The Fleischbrücke, or "Meat Bridge," in the background was named after the "Fleischbänke" – butchers' booths – located there. Built on the model of the Rialto in Venice, it crossed the Pegnitz in a single arch that could bear vehicles as well as pedestrians – an exceptional engineering feat in the Europe of those days. It was built by Jacob Wolff the Elder between 1596 and 1598, and still survives.

View of the Museumsbrücke in Nuremberg, Ferdinand Schmidt, end of the 19th century, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

The Viatishaus, seen here in a photograph taken by Ferdinand Schmidt at the end of the 19th century, was completely destroyed in World War II.

The Museumsbrücke as it looks today, 2019, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

Today the cityscape around the Museumsbrücke is dominated by postwar construction.

City map of Nuremberg, 1648 (1648) by Matthäus MerianThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

8 Barfüßerkirche

Interior of the Burnt-Out Barfüsserkirche, Looking West, during Reconstruction, 1681 (1681) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Graff's engraving, made after his own drawing, is a virtuoso portrayal of the construction site as work to rebuild the Barfüsserkirche began in 1681, a full ten years after the church was destroyed in a terrible fire. The engraving shows where rubble of the collapsed structure still remains to be removed.

Birds have nested in the western gable end of the ruin. The scaffolding, with all its complicated braces and knotted fastenings, has been completed and workers are hauling up construction materials using a barrel as a pulley.

Interior of the Barfüsserkirche Looking East, after Completion in 1689 (1693) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

This view includes the central nave, redesigned in Baroque style, as far as the Gothic choir, which was spared from the fire, though it too has new Baroque features (master builder until 1689: Johann Trost). A partial demolition after 1800 created space for the famed Bestelmeyersche Magazin, a shop that offered a broad range of goods and the first illustrated mail-order catalog.

Part of the former Barfüsserkirche can still be seen on Findelgasse, 2019, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

In 1913 the structure was almost entirely torn down to build a bank. Its rich Baroque accouterments – including a dozen altars – have been lost.

City map of Nuremberg, 1648 (1648) by Matthäus MerianThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

10 Lorenzkirche

Interior of the Lorenzkirche, Looking East (1685) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

In this, his first view of a church nave, Graff's detailed study of perspective enables him to bring to life the depth of the interior, from the western segment in the foreground to the eastern "hall" choir.

A curious feature is the "Angelic Salutation" or "Annunciation," a monumental wood carving in rosary form by Veit Stoss (completed 1518), which was hung enshrouded in a sack. Graff gives an idea here of the hidden masterpiece. Thanks to tradition and the Nuremberg patrician families’ attitudes toward protecting their property, this sculpture, with its unequivocal focus on the Virgin Mary, survived the iconoclasm of the Reformation and remained under the care and maintenance of the Tucher family. Although it was no longer unveiled on feast days associated with the Virgin, as it had been before the Reformation, it was still uncovered occasionally to be viewed by important visitors.

Engelsgruss of St. Lawrence Church in Nuremberg, Veit Stoß, 1517-1518, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

Nuremberg's famed "Engelsgruss," or the "Angelic Salutation of the Virgin Mary," celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2018. To honor the occasion, the wood sculpture was lowered from its usual position high in the Lorenzkirche so visitors could see it close up.

City map of Nuremberg, 1648 (1648) by Matthäus MerianThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

14 Städtischer Bauhof

Municipal Construction Yard (formerly called the "Peunt") (1701) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The well-proportioned Renaissance structure, built as a master builder's house by Jakob Wolff the Younger in 1615, still houses the city's building and planning department today. Its rooms survived the war, and some have significant stucco ceilings. One that is especially noteworthy is by Carlo Moretti Brentano from 1661.

Municipal Construction Yard as it looks today, 2018, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

But the broad square no longer serves to store construction materials – it's now a heavily used parking lot. The low half-timbered buildings surrounding the square have given way over time to multi-story structures, so that the nearby Frauentor and its tower no longer dominate the view.

City map of Nuremberg, 1648 (1648) by Matthäus MerianThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

13 Königstraße

Königstrasse Looking North, with the Klarakirche and Lorenzkirche (1680/1688) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

This street leads past the Gothic Klarakirche, the former convent church of the Poor Clares. Today it is a Catholic parish church, following centuries of secular use after the suppression of the monasteries during the Reformation. The buildings pictured here on both sides of the street still have a medieval character.

"Königsstrasse and St. Lorenz," 19th century, Carl Maria Eckert, About 1880/90, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

During the second half of the 19th century they were replaced with grand commercial buildings, homes, as well as hotels, because the construction of the main railroad station outside the Frauentor had enhanced the street's importance as an entryway to the city center.

The Königstrasse today, 2019, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

War damage was repaired here, just as in the adjacent Mauthalle or "Customs House," whose name comes from its use as a weighing and duty collection station for goods. The prospect is closed out by Nuremberg's second main church, St. Lorenz (St. Lawrence).

City map of Nuremberg, 1648 (1648) by Matthäus MerianThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

11 Jakobsplatz

Jakobsplatz looking east with the Deutschordenshaus, the Weisser Turm, and the Jakobskirche (1681) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

This large urban space in the western part of town was dominated by the stately Deutschordenshaus – the house of the Teutonic Order – as well as the Gothic Jakobskirche, or Church of St. James, which today has been rebuilt in a simplified version after being destroyed in World War II. We can also see the 13th century Weisser Turm tower, dating from the city's next-to-last generation of fortifications.

Jakobsplatz as it looks today (2019)The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

At the far left, today a police station occupies the area of the former monastery of the Teutonic Order. Next door is the Church of St. Elisabeth, completed in 1903.

The artist in front of Lichtenhof Manor (about 1685) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Milestones in the life of Johann Andreas Graff
1636: Born in Nuremberg, son of a respected headmaster at the Egidiengymnasium school

1653-58: Training in Frankfurt am Main as a painter, draftsman and engraver, in the studio of Jakob Marrell, Maria Sibylla Merian's stepfather

1658-64: Travels in Italy for study and work; sojourns in Venice, Genoa, Florence and Rome as a member of a painters' guild there

1665: Return to Frankfurt, marriage to Maria Sibylla Merian

1668: Relocation to Nuremberg. Lives and works with his wife, the "Gräffin," at the "House of the Golden Sun"; vigorous support of her work on books about flowers and caterpillars; own engravings.

Hallertorbrücke, Rebuilt in 1697, in Front of the City Walls, with the Towers of the Lorenzkirche to the East (before 1688) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

1682: Return to Frankfurt with family, to assist widowed and needy mother-in-law.

1686: Return to Nuremberg, leaving his family. The separation is permanent.
Many years of hard work on extensive groups of works: "Grosse Stadtprospecte" (large cityscapes) and "Kleine Landtschäfftlein" (small landscapes) jointly with Johann Ulrich Kraus and his engraving studio in Augsburg, where Graff's master drawings were reproduced as precise engravings; other important work: drawings commissioned by Nuremberg families.

1694: Second marriage, after protracted divorce proceedings.

1701: Death in Nuremberg while still active as a "respected and gifted painter."

A portrait of Maria Sibylla Merian as she might have looked in younger years, Johann Rudolf Füßli, 1755, From the collection of: The City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums
Show lessRead more

Commemorations of the 300th anniversary of Maria Sibylla Merian's death were an occasion for Förderverein Kulturhistorisches Museum e.V. – an organization dedicated to promoting the city's cultural heritage – and its cooperating partners to devote an exhibition to draftsman and engraver Johann Andreas Graff. Merian was a famed naturalist and artist, and Graff was married to her for 20 years; but he himself had been forgotten, his achievements underappreciated. The exhibition would at last bring him the attention he deserved.

Varget Family Gardens and Country House, West of the City Walls (before 1688) by Johann Andreas GraffThe City of Nuremberg's Art Collections, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The Förderverein Kulturhistorisches Museum Nürnberg e.V. is a sponsoring organization founded in January 2009 to preserve and display the cultural heritage of the former Imperial City of Nuremberg.

It has taken on the task of promoting research and understanding of Nuremberg's history with lectures, guided art tours and publications.

Its ultimate goal is to promote and create a Museum of Art History as an expansion of the Nuremberg Municipal Museums.

www.foerderverein-khm-nuernberg.de

Credits: Story

Part 1 of the exhibition: The Sebalder Altstadt – The Old Town around St. Sebald

This exhibition is based on the "Johann Andreas Graff, Pionier Nürnberger Stadtansichten" (Johannes Andreas Graff, a Nuremberg Cityscape Pioneer) exhibition catalog published by Förderverein Kulturhistorisches Museum Nürnberg e.V.

ISBN 978-3-00-056458-1

Texts and Design: Dr. Silke Colditz-Heusl, Margot Lölhöffel, Theo Noll, Pablo de Ia Riestra, Dr. Werner Schultheiß, Bertold Frhr. von Haller, Helge Weingärtner

Implementation: Brigitte List

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
From Bach to Bauhaus
Art, sights and history brought to you by over 160 institutions in Germany
View theme
Google apps