German library buys 400-year-old album of drawings by European royalty for €2.8m

An inscription by Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor (1576–1612) The Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (HAB)

A German library has purchased a 400-year-old album containing illustrations and inscriptions from European emperors, kings, and princes for €2.8m.

The album originally belonged to Philipp Hainhofer (1578-1647), a well-known diplomat and art dealer from Augsburg, Germany, who travelled between Europes courts. Over a period of 50 years, he asked those he met to contribute to his “friendship book,” which contains around 100 drawings typically commissioned by dignitaries from artists to accompany their signatures.

The Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel purchased the book in a private sale arranged by Sothebys. Hainhofer was involved in setting up the library, which first tried to purchase his book after his death some 373 years ago according to Katharina zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, senior director at Sothebys in Hamburg.

Double-sided depiction of flowers, shells and insects The Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (HAB)

Contributors to Hainhofers album include Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, Cosimo de Medici, the king of Denmark and German princes and princesses. The book helped Hainhofer gain access to Europes leading decision-makers.

The album has not been on public display and was believed to have been lost forever until 2006. It is considered the most important of about 25,000 such friendship books that have been documented worldwide and offers “unparalleled insights into the early modern political trading culture and art trade,” Peter Bürschel, the director of the Herzog ARead More – Source