The Burlington Magazine • CLI • December, (2009)
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the album amico-rum, or Stammbuch, was especially popular among educated Germans. Begun in the universities, where students obtained memorial signatures of their fellow students and professors, these small, pocket-sized books soon became part of a traveller’s paraphernalia, accompanying him abroad, where he not only obtained the autographs of foreign dignitaries but also commissioned picture-shop artists to make watercolour paintings on its pages. Among the most intriguing of the several thousand surviving albums is that once owned by Jakob Fetzer, now in the collection of the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel. The dates of the signatures in this album indicate that Fetzer, from Nuremberg, was in England between July 1618 and May 1620, making trips to Edinburgh in 1619 and Dublin in 1620. While in London, he apparently visited the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey, where he was sufficiently impressed by the grand burial tombs of the first Tudor king and the legendary Tudor queen to commission what may well be unique watercolour paintings of them, each remarkably detailed, and published here for the first time.