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Saturday 22 July 2017

Wendel Dietterlin’s etching, “Plate 197: Gothic Portal”, 1598

Wendel Dietterlin (the Elder) (c.1550–99)
“Plate 197: Gothic Portal”, 1598, from his treatise on architectural ornament, “Architectura von Ausztheilung Symmetria und Proportion der fünff Seulen”, published Nurnberg.

Etching (from an iron plate) on fine laid paper (with watermark) trimmed within the platemark.
(sheet) 24.8 x 18.2 cm
Andresen 16.197; Hollstein 17 III, IIIa or IV (of IV) with the numbering.

Condition: marvellously crisp and well-inked impression most likely a lifetime impression trimmed within the platemark. Apart from light age-toning, the sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, stains, holes, abrasions, folds or foxing).

I am selling this magnificent and rare original etching by Dietterlin for AU$162 (currently US$128.15/EUR110.03/GBP98.69 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this design for the entrance to a church—a virtual eruption of ornament—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

Although most designers are likely to have heard of Wendel Dietterlin’s astounding book of designs, “Architectura” (1598), Dietterlin’s fame does not rest with his book being valued as meaningful textbook or pattern-book of styles. The designs in the book are a little too bizarre to be helpful in this way. Instead, Dietterlin’s fame rests on the extravagant ornament that he adds to the five classical orders of Architecture: Tuscan, Dorian, Ionian, Corinthian, and Composite.

This design for a church portico, for example, features in the section of the book dedicated to designs underpinned by the principles of the Composite order. No doubt an argument could be made to justify how this fabulous concoction of late Gothic fantasy embodies the principles of Composite order, but there is no need. The design is marvellous as an image of ornamental excess without any need for justification or explanation.

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