Engineer or Architect – Johann Carl and the Theory of Architectural Drawings in 17th-Century Nuremberg

The today almost forgotten famous engineer and architect Johann Carl (*1583) died in 1665 in his hometown Nuremberg. But Sigmund von Birken, one of the leading literary figures of baroque poetry, was right when he declares in an epigram dedicated to Carl that his art could endure the dead: „Was fragt der Todt nach Kunst. nichts kan sie wider Ihn: Er macht Verstand und Hand durch seine Kunst verderben Zwar lebt das Lob der Kunst: das reisst der Tod nit hin Doch eine Kunst ihn trotzt, die heisst: Eern seelig sterben.“

Carl was one of the important engineers during the development of fortresses in the 17th century. And his career and network is remarkable, too. As young men he studied by the famous mathematician and engineer Johann Faulhaber in Ulm and engraved for his “Weitere CONTINUATION …” (1622) recently developed drawing and measuring instruments. Furthermore Carl studied fortresses in the Netherlands and worked for the military in Brandenburg. In 1615 he started his service as military engineer for the town councile in Nuremberg. As time passes by Faulhaber did not forgot his young scholar. He dedicated his 1630 published “Ingenieurs-Schul …” Johann Carl amongst others important engineers like Joseph Furttenbach. In this time Carl was assigned with his one and only architectural project for the so called Trinity-Church in Regensburg which he finished in 1631. The importance of this project becomes clear while looking on one of his late portraits. The engraving from Jakob von Sandrart shows the engineer with a model of a canon, measuring instruments and his church in the background.

The Engineer Johann Carl. Engraving by Jakob von Sandrart, 1662

The Engineer Johann Carl from Nuremberg. Engraving by Jakob von Sandrart, 1662 

Nevertheless Carl produces a lot of architectural drawings mostly designs for rebuilding’s or more technical architectures like mills or water-lifting devices in Nuremberg. His mostly washed drawings are very complex and detailed by showing technical devices.

With those technical details in mind Carl also realized a remarkable miniature world of military equipment: The so called little Nuremberg arsenal. In more than a hundred low-scale models Carl copied cannons, weapons and carriages. Originally those models were probably reposed in the arsenal in Nuremberg. Today they are part of the collection of the Germanische Nationalmuseum (GNM). The usage and function of this occasional model collection is not yet explored. Furthermore Carl takes on the theoretical approach of his teacher Johann Faulhaber. In his three unpublished treatises Johann Carl explains mathematical basics (arithmetic, geometry) and strategies for the design processes for fortresses, too. Those treatises are supplemented by a large number of fine drawings and diagrams explaining the theoretical approaches of fortifications in the text.

The various media Carl uses to explore architecture, machines and technical devices are remarkable. My aim is to focus on the engineer’s theory of (architectural) drawings. The main assumption is that engineers take a leading part in the development of the theory and practice of (architectural) drawings and their communication to a wide public in 17th-century Nuremberg. Recently Claudine Moulin and Stephan Hoppe set in with studies about the contemporary engineer and architect Joseph Furttenbach. This provides the opportunity to reread the engineer’s profession and to ask for their usage of media in design processes.

 

References

Lemma Carl, Johann, in: Sandrat.net URL: http://ta.sandrart.net/-person-2807

Kurt Pilz: Lemma Carl, Hanns, in: Neue Deutsche Biographie 3 (1957), S. 140 [Onlinefassung] URL: http://www.deutsche-biographie.de/pnd124094597.html

Lemma Johann Carl, in: Manfred H. Grieb (Hg.): Nürnberger Künstlerlexikon. Bildende Künstler, Kunsthandwerker, Gelehrte, Sammler, Kulturschaffende und Mäzene vom 12. bis zur Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts, München 2007, S. 216–217.

Hartwig Neumann: Festungsbau-Kunst und -Technik deutsche Wehrbauarchitektur vom XV. bis XX. Jahrhundert. Mit einer Bibliographie deutschsprachiger Publikationen über Festungsforschung und Festungsnutzung, Koblenz 1988.

Ernst Königer: Das Kleine Nürnberger Zeughaus, Nürnberg 1967.

Heidrun Stein-Kecks/Roland Kecks: … zur Satisfaction des Bauherren und Verlegers…Überlegungen zum Holzmodell der Regensburger Dreieinigkeitskirche im Spiegel architekturtheoretischen Schrifttums, in: Albert Dietl u. a. (Hg.): Roma quanta fuit. Beiträge zur Architektur-, Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. Festschrift für Hans-Christoph Dittscheid zum 60. Geburtstag, Augsburg 2010, S. 597–622.

Kat.-Ausst.: Dreiecks-Verhältnisse. Architektur- und Ingenieurzeichnungen aus vier Jahrhunderten, hg. von Werner Broda, Nürnberg 1996.

Sigmund von Birken: Werke und Korrespondenz. Todten-Andenken und Himmels-Gedanken oder Gottes- und Todes-Gedanken, Bd. 5 Teil I. Texte, hg. von Johann Anselm Steiger, Tübingen 2009 (= Neudrucke deutscher Literaturwerke; 59).

 

 

 

 


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