Visual Arts and Communication of Power

Milan Pelc

Georgius Subarich sculpsit Viennae

Juraj Šubarić, Engraver in Vienna around 1650 – Works and Commissioners
Summary of an article published in: Journal of the Institute of Art History (Radovi Instituta za povijest umjetnosti) 39 (2015), 55–74

Biographical information about the engraver who signed most of his works as Georgius Subarich sculpsit Viennae has remained unknown so far. There is no reliable evidence that the engraver was of Croatian descent, although both recent Hungarian and Croatian researchers consider it probable. His name is most often associated with Nikola Zrinski’s famous epic Adriai Tengernek Syrenaia (Vienna, 1651), for which he made the allegorical frontispiece. It seems that Šubarić had multiple connections with the Croatian cultural milieu through his commissioners and recipients of his works. He created two engravings for the Jesuit College in Rijeka intended for popular devotions in fraternities led by the Jesuits. The works in question are the image of the Miraculous Crucifix of Rijeka, which in the mid-17th century was located at the Jesuit church in Rijeka (today St Vitus Cathedral), and the image of Pietà, which Šubarić modelled after the engraving of Johann Sadeler I. Both engravings were also used as illustrations in the prayer book Brascno Duhovno, which was written by Nikola Hermon, a Jesuit from Rijeka. The prayer book was published in 1693 in Ljubljana.

Leading Viennese printers Matthäus Cosmerovius and Matthäus Rickhes published a whole series of books with Juraj Šubarić’s engravings between 1644 and 1652. Apart from the books, two large posters with allegorical figures were printed Vienna 1646. The first one is entitled Connvbium Lili et Daphnes, Pronuba Pallade celebratum..., and the second one Hymettvs deliciosis redvndans floribvs... Both posters represent an intensive production of publications aimed at promoting academic education at universities, which were run at the time by the Jesuits. As the sponsor of the first poster appears the Count Petar Konjski (Konzky) from Konjščina in Hrvatsko Zagorje.

Several of Šubarić’s engravings are directly connected with commissioners from the circles of Croatian and Hungarian high nobility at the middle of the 17th century. One work in question is an engraved coat of arms—the ex-libris of Ferenc Nádasdy—printed in the book Mundus Marianus (Vienna, Cosmerovius, 1646) written by Lorenzo Grizogono (Laurentius Grisogono), a Jesuit from Split. Another one is an engraved coat of arms of the Palffy von Erdöd magnate family, which Šubarić made for the printed eulogy Foelicitas mater... sive oratio funebris in exequiis illustrissimae comitissae... Mariae Fugger de Kirchberg (Vienna, Cosmerovius, 1646) written by the learned Thomas Palffy ab Erdöd, canon of the Bratislava Chapter. Šubarić also made an engraving of the castrum doloris erected for Count Ivan Drašković III (d. 1648) in Saint Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava. He created two large engravings for the book Memoria Regum et Banorum regnorum Dalmatiae, Croatiae et Sclavoniae (Vienna, Cosmerovius, 1652) by Juraj Rattkay of Veliki Tabor. The book’s frontispiece shows the figure of Saint Paul with eight "Illyrian" saints, while the dedication page is preceded by a large equestrian portrait of the young Croatian and Hungarian King Ferdinand IV.

Šubarić also received commissions for illustrations in religious works of Catholic writers from the first half of the 17th century published in Vienna. For Hieremias Drexel’s book Der Ewigkheit Vorbott, Dess Todtß Heroldt (Matthäus Rickhes, 1649) he produced the frontispiece allegory and three engravings on the subject of memento mori. In the same year, he also created the allegorical title page for Thomas a Kempis’ popular book De Imitatione Christi, whose Viennese edition was sponsored by Ferenc Nádasdy.

Apart from the aforementioned engravings, two more portraits are known to have been made by Šubarić in Vienna: an undated portrait of Archduke Leopold Wilhelm von Österreich (1614–1662) and a portrait of quack doctor George Faber von Rottenmann, dated 1648. On the latter portrait—as well as on the engravings in Rattkay's book—Šubarić signed himself as the engraver and publisher (sculpsit et excudit), which indicates that he had acquired an independent position as publisher of prints in Vienna around 1650. He most probably made in the same year the engraving of Saint Paul the First Hermit, dedicated to Martin Borković, Prior General of the Pauline Order who was the Bishop of Zagreb from 1667 to 1687. The image of Saint Paul is modelled on Albrecht Dürer’s engraving Saint Jerome in His Study (1514). This is a good example of Šubarić’s modus operandi, which consisted of compiling, citing and copying other artists’ works.

Juraj Šubarić’s engravings reflect the characteristics of a very diversified and diverse production of engravings for a large media market of his time. Šubarić belonged to a group of graphic artists who worked for printing houses and other publishers of visual materials in mid-17th-century Vienna. Their artistic achievements were not exceptional, but their contribution made possible a wide range of visual communication across the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy in an age of ever-increasing expansion of varied graphic products aimed at different types of recipients.

Visual material used in the article