Schuh’s Annotated Bio-Bibliography

Return to main Biobliography page

WIRSING, Adam Ludwig.

(1733 – 1797)

(Born: Dresden, Germany, 1733/4; Died: Nürnberg, Germany, 18 July 1797) German engraver, colorist & publisher.

Wirsing operated a successful business as an engraver and publisher in Nürnberg, Germany. He was also the founder of a family of talented German artists. In his youth, he apprenticed to a Nürnberg art dealer, whose daughter he eventually married. Wirsing then expanded the family business into engraving and publishing, which became particularly renowned for realistic depictions of natural objects such as birds, animals, flowers, insects, etc.

Biographical references: Baur, Allgemeines historisches Handwörterbuch, 1803. DBA: I 1380, 450-452. Lipowsky, Baierisches Künstler-Lexicon, 1810. Nagler, Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, 1835-52: 21. Singer, Allgemeiner Bildniskatalog, 1930-8: 14. Thieme & Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon, 1907-50: 36, 99. WBI.

Marmora et adfines Aliquos Lapides, 1775

1. Latin & German, 1775.
Marmora | Et Adfines | Aliqvos Lapides | Coloribvs Svis | Exprimi | Cvravit Et Edidit | Adamvs Ludovicvs Wirsing, | Chalcograpphvs Norimbergensis. | [ornate rule] | Abbildungen | der | Marmor=Arten | und einiger | verwandten Steine | nach der Natur auf das sorgfältigste mit Farben erleuchtet | gestochen und herausgegeben | durch | Adam Ludwig Wirsing, | Kupferstecher und Kunsthändler in Nürnberg. | [ornate rule] | Nürnberg, | auf Kosten des Verlegers, 1775.

2°: A-R2; 32l.; [1]-64 p., 54 hand-colored engraved plates prepared by the author. German and Latin text set in two columns. Page size: 334 x 234 mm.

Contents: [1-2], Title page, verso blank.; [3], Qutoation.; [4], Blank.; [5]-6, Preface.; [7]-64, Text.

Rare. This highly attractive book describes and illustrates specimens of ornamental marble, and provides mineralogical details of occurrences in locations throughout Germany. Unlike the present day meaning, the word marble during the late eighteenth century referred to any stone that could be cut and polished for decorative purposes; therefore, it is not surprising that each plate of this work illustrates from 4-9 rectangular tablets of polished stone. The spectrum of colors and patterns inherent in natural rock is accurately reflected in the fine hand-colored plates, which exhibit an extraordinary range of patterns of color in their figures. The specimens are classified according to the locality from which they originated and numerically keyed to the text. This original edition appears to be the scarcer of the two published editions, perhaps indicating that the remining uncolored plates were incorporated into the Amsterdam edition [see next entry].

Bibliographical references: Allgemeines Verzeichniss neuer Bucher: 1776, p. 43-4. Beckmann P.Ö.B.: 7, 448 & 9, 606. Berlinische Sammlungen: 9, 424-5. Cobres, Deliciæ Cobresianæ, 1782: 2, 761-2. L'Esprit des Journaux: Juillet, 1776, p. 408-9. Leipziger allgemeines Verzeichniss: 1776, 43. LKG: XVI 309. NUC: 668, 662 [NW 0379342]. Schröter's Journal für die Liebhaber: 3, 493. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 7281.

Afbeelding der Marmor Soorten, 1776

2. Dutch, German, English & French, 1776.
[Dutch title page:] Afbeelding | der | Marmor Soorten, | volgens hunne | Natuurlyke Koleuren | Naauwdeurig Afgebeeld, ook met de bygevoegde Hollandsche, | Hoogduitsche, Engelsche, Fransche en Latynsche | Benaamingen voorzien. | [ornament] | Te Amsterdam, | By Jan Christiaan Sepp, Boekverkooper, | 1776.

[German title page:]

Abbildungen | der | Marmor=Arten | Nach der Natur auf das sorgfältigste mit Farben erleuchtet/ und mit | beygefügten Holländischen/ Deutschen/ Englischen/ | Frantzösischen und Lateinischen Namen | herausgegeben. | [ornament] | Amsterdam/ | Bey Johann Christian Sepp/ Buchhändlern/ | 1776.

[English title page:]

A Representation | Of | Different Sort | of Marble, | Ingraved and set out in their Natural Colours; also set | forth with the Dutch, German, English, French | and Latin names. | [ornament] | Amsterdam: | For John Christian Sepp, Bookseller. | 1776.

[French title page:]

Représentation | De | Marbres, | Gravés & mis en Couleurs d'après Nature; | Avec Leurs Noms En Hollanois, Allemand, Anglois, François | & Latin. | [ornament] | Amsterdam, | Apud Jean Christian Sepp, Bibliopolam. | 1766 [sic].

[Latin title page:]

Marmora | Et Adfines | Aliquos Lapides | Coloribus Suis | [ornament] | Amstelædami, | Apud Johannem Christianum Sepp, Bibliopolam. | 1776.

4°: π12 A2 B3 C-E4 E*4 F-G4 H5 I-K4 L3 M8 N2 (H2 signed B2; M3 not signed; M4 misigned M3; M5 missigned M4; M6 missigned M5); 67l.; No pagination. Text intersperced with 100 hand-colored plates. Landwehr calls for a frontispiece, "Marmora et adfines Aliquos Lapides coloris suis," which was not present in either copy examined.

Contents: [2 pgs], Dutch title page, verso blank.; [2 pgs], German title page, verso blank.; [2 pgs], English title page, verso blank.; [2 pgs], French title page, verso blank.; [2 pgs], Latin title page, verso blank.; [1 pg], "Voorbericht."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], "Vorbericht."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], "To The Reader."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], "Au Lecteur."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], "Lectori."; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], Sectional title page.; [1 pg], Blank.; [1 pg], "Tabula I."; [1 pg], "Tabula II."; [A1r-N2v], Tabula 3-Tabula 75.

Rare. This true polyglot edition with 100 brilliant, hand-colored plates of marble specimens from all parts of Europe is one of the finest works to come from the Amsterdam scientific publishing firm of Jan Christian Sepp. The work was originally issued in 10 parts each covering a different part of Europe where marble was quarried. The number of examples on each plate ranges from 2-9 and these are numerically keyed to the text written by the German naturalist Casmir Christoph Schmidel, which is set in four parallel columns (Dutch, German, English, French), with the Latin below. Careful examination reveals the intrigue patterns printed on the plates that were used by the colorist in applying the color wash. In every case, the individual specimens are shown in a squarish-rectangular format, with shadowing giving the plates a three dimensional appearance, and a colorful almost abstract look.

This is the only Amsterdam edition, which utilizes some of the same plates as the original Nürnberg edition of 1775 [see previous entry], as indicated by the signing of "A.L. Wirsung exc. Nor." Side-by-side comparison of the two editions suggests that these plates were printed in Germany but probably colored in Sepp's publishing house. The most complete collation of this work calls for 100 plates, which includes a supplement of 6 plates, with the text describing entries upto Tabula 75 only. Copies in this state are exceptionally rare. Landwehr also calls for a frontispiece which was missing from the all copies examined for this entry.

Bibliographical references: Anonymous, "Stone tome", The World of Interiors, Feb., 1994, 100-104. Cobres, Deliciæ Cobresianæ, 1782: 2, 761-2. Landwehr, Studies in Dutch Books, 1976: p. 1. LKG: XVI 309. NUC: 4, 679 [NA 0090293]. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 7282.