Tarot History Search started September 2004       

Carl Heinrich von Heinecken (1706 - 1791)

Carl Heinrich von Heinecken (24.1.1706 in Lübeck - 23. Januar 1791 in Schloß Altdöbern), a jurist and librarian, entered 1739 the service of the count of Brühl as private secretary. The count of Brühl was in the years 1738 - 1763 the dominant prime minister of the kingdom of Poland and the Kurfürstentum of Sachsen, then united by the son of August II. der Starke (1670 - 1733). In contrast to his father the heir, August III (1696 - 1763) showed no interest in the political business and left it in the hands of Brühl, engaging himself in festivities and the collection of art.
Heinecken became soon the director of the Gemäldegalerie and the Kupferstichkabinett in Dresden and was mainly concerned to buy new items for the already great collection (it's said, that Heinecken bought ca. 50.000 engravings - the Dresden collection was in his time only comparable to similar installations in Paris; in 1745 a deal was done, in which Dresden bought 100 oil paintings from the duke Francesco d'Este). In the engraving collection Heinecken focussed on the time before Dürer and was interested in the origin of woodcut and copperplate engraving.
However, with the begin of the 7-years-war the whole court of Dresden had to flee to Poland and Sachsen became a major battlefield of the war (the excessive love for the arts at the Dresden court had taken too much money, so the military part of the state was reduced and couldn't resist the first Prussian attacks). Parts of the art collection, which had been builded since 1560 and contained beside the graphics 14802 paintings, got lost during the war. The splendid city of Dresden had suffered considerably.

With the death of August III. and the end of the war in 1763 Brühl was attacked for his bad political and financial management, he retired from his position and died the same month. The huge private book collection of Brühl with 62.000 items, for a big part achieved with the help of the secretary Heinecken was sold in 1468 to the state for 50.000 Taler (one has to compare this prize with the prize of 20.000 ducats = 60.000 Taler, which was paid earlier 1754, to years before the devastating war, by the Saxon court for the Sixtinian Madonna made by Raffael). It was the greatest private library in German language countries in its time.

In the turmoil of the scandals around prime minister Brühl his secretary Heinecken in 1763 was prisoned for 1 1/2 years, but could defend himself finally of being not involved in some very critical financial activities of Brühl. The rest of his life he lived as a well respected author of books about art, publishing in German and French. By his earlier position, probably not comparable to anybody else career, he had an incredible knowledge about art and especially engraving, that he became a feared opponent in the early international discussions about origin of printing, matters of early engravings and art generally. Works of writers, who dared to express an opinion in these topics, were by him in the literary meaning often cut to pieces without mercy, counting their mistakes here and there to astonishing masses - and, as it seems, Heinecken was often correct, just having had a long time the better material and much more experience than others. "The authority of Heinecken, has been considered by later writers as oracular, in all that relates to engraving, and the connection of that art with ancient typography .." writes Ottley 100 years later, just starting then to corrrect and contradict Heinecken, as many others, as good as he can.

In his Idée générale d'une collection complette d'estampes: Avec une dissertation sur l'origine de la Gravure & sur les premiers Livres d'Images (1768), p. 237, he left also a short passage about playing cards ("Heinecken conjectures that Gutenberg took the idea of printing from the playing-card makers, who are said to have been the first engravers of historical subjects intermingled with texts. ... Heinecken is of the opinion that their first productions were taken from wooden blocks.", says a description.

De faire fortir 1 origine de graver en bois de ces ouvriers qui faifoient anciennement des cartes à jouer il n ya rien de nouveau en cela

A second note I found here: Neue Nachrichten von Künstlern und Kunstsachen. 1. Theil By Karl-Heinrich von Heinecken

t ?? a é on ??? gormfc&ttetí ereg î cn 5pieífat fen

And likely there are many other notes of relevance scattered in his many writings: Other works of von Heinecken, as online resources

Heinecken detected the "oldest woodcut", the Christopher of Buxheim: "J'ai découvert dans la Chartreuse de Buxheim, près de Memmingen, un de nos plus anciens Couvents en Alemagne, l'image de Saint Chriftophle, portant l'enfant Jesus par la mer: vis à vis de lui est l'hermite, qui léve la lanterne, pour éclairer, & derriere lui est un paisàn vû à dos, portant un sac, qui grimpe sur le haut d'une montagne. Cette piece de la grandeur in folio, est gravée en bois & enluminée à la maniere de nos cartes à jouer, où on lit en bas : Christoferi faciem, die quacunque tuerie. Illa nempe die morte mala non morieris. Millesimo ccccxx tercio. Au moins savons nous par cette piece avec certitude, qu' on a gravé des images & des lettres en 1423."

Heinrich was related to Immanuel Breitkopf (another hero of early playing card research), who served him as printer for his books from 1778 - 1790, just in the time, when Breitkopf found time to develop himself as a writer about topics related mostly to the printing business (since 1777). Heinecken was very content with Breitkopf as printer; Breitkopf published about playing cards in 1784, after having tried the card printing business himself for a short time in 1770 - 1782 (beside his many other activities); after it, connected to a financial crisis of the printing enterprise in 1782) he sold the playing card factory, before he published his great work about playing cards in 1784. Both - Breithaupt and Heinecken - lived in the time, when the importance of the Leipziger Buchmesse surpassed the book fair of Frankfurt.

Heinecken was indirectly of prominent descendance, although not noble by birth. He was born as son of a painter of some quality 24.1.1706 in Lübeck and died as a Baron 23. Januar 1791 in Schloß Altdöbern, getting the rank of nobility by his clause relationship to the count of Brühl. The father of both the ingenious brothers, Paul Heinecken, was a prominent painter and architect in Lübeck, who taught oil painting also to others. Between his pupils was Ismael Mengs, the father of Anton Raffael Mengs (1728 - 1779), who later was regarded as one of the 3 great artists of the time (leading artist of early Neoclassicism). It seems, that Ismael Mengs captured Paul Heineckens' ideas to produce genious childrens, and that he with intention formed the early abilities of Anton Raffael - at least this was the impression of contemporaries, who identified a sort of education tragedy in Anton Raffaels' art (it's said, that the name "Raffael" already was chosen with the secret intention of his father) - it's reported in this manner by Carl Heinrich von Heinecken himself.
The mother Katharina Elisabeth Heinecken, also remarkable, engaged as painter of flower motifs and as a trader of art. The public attention for the tragedy around his younger brother likely helped the older to achieve his later high position, the artistic direction in his family laid the base for the later occupation. And naturally - the court of Dresden was in this time the ideal place to realize his talents. After his father has tried the book production business in 1727 with Lucidum Prospectivae Speculum also the young Carl Heinrich (26 years old) tried early a first publication in 1732 with the proud title: Die wahren Absichten des Menschen und die dazu gehörenden Mittel (The True Intentions of Man and the Necessary Tools), Dresden/Leipzig 1732; Foreign (most German) Links

Other Publications

  • Recueil d'estampes d'après le plus célèbres tableaux de la Galerie Royale de Dresde, 2 Bde., Dresden 1753/57;
  • Recueil d'estampes, gravées d'après les tableaux de la galerie et du cabinet de S. E. M. Le Comte de Brühl, Dresden 1754;
  • Nachrichten von der Beschaffenheit der Niederlausitz, Pförten 1760;
  • Nachrichten von Künstlern und Kunst-Sachen, 2 Bde., Leipzig/Wien 1768/69;
  • Idée générale d'une collection complette d'estampes avec une dissertation sur l' origine de la gravure et sur res premiers livres d'image, Wien/Leipzig 1771;
  • Dictionnaire des artistes, dont nous avons des estampes, 4 Bde., Leipzig 1778-90; Neue Nachrichten von Künstlern und Kunst-Sachen, Dresden/Leipzig 1786.

Paul Heinecken's
Lucidum Prospectivae Speculum (1727)
with 95 complex copperplate engravings
nowadays offered for 14.500 $

Carl Heinrich von Heinecken

oldest dated woodcut 1423
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