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Auction #64 begins on
25 Jan 2018 16:30 GMT

Alexander PETZHOLDT. - – A. GRUNFELD (artist)

[MENNONITES & the NOGAI People]. An important Album of mounted original drawings and watercolours.

+ a copy of the published work in which some of the drawings are published.

Published: Russia + Germany, 1855-1864

Reserve: $4,000


Estimate: $7000-10000

Bidding opens: 25 Jan 16:30 GMT

Bidding closes: 1 Feb 16:30 GMT

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Alexander PETZHOLDT (1810-1889, compiler, expedition leader and author). – A. GRUNFELD (expedition artist).

[MENNONITES & the NOGAI People]. An important Album of mounted original drawings and watercolours, titled at front ‘Skizzen auf einer landwirthschaftlichen Excusion im sudlichen Russland (im Jahre 1855) gesammelt von Alexander Potzholdt . gezeichnet von Grunfeld.’ [approx. translation: 'Sketches on an Agricultural Excursion in Southern Russia (in 1855) collected by Alexander Potzholdt. drawn by Grunfeld. '].

[Russian Empire: 22 May-14 August 1855 + 1 drawing dated 1857].

67 leaves, oblong folio (9 7/8 x 13 ½ inches), including 12 blank leaves, 1 leaf bearing the manuscript title, and 1 leaf with the manuscript list of contents.

52 original drawings on 49 variously sized sheets of paper (8 5/8 x 11 5/8 inches and smaller), the majority tipped to individual album leaves, a few tipped in at the inner margin of the album, the majority signed or initialled, apparently by Grunfeld (one drawing dated ‘1857’ is signed by another unidentified artist), captioned and dated, all numbered almost sequentially, accompanied by 2 related wood-engravings.

Condition: see images, some damage to corners, and backing sheets, otherwise excellent

Binding: original red/purple morocco, tooled in gilt and blind, glazed endpapers, gilt edges

Condition of binding: rubbed and scuffed, split and chipping to spine, inner hinges split but holding, surface damage to front free endpaper.

A significant selection of the drawings (about 20) are the original artwork for Petzholdt’s ‘Reise im westlichen und südlichen europäischen Russland im Jahre 1855.’ (Leipzig: H. Fries, 1864). 

The album is offered with a copy of undated Gera issue of the published work:

Alexander PETZHOLDT. Reise im westlichen und südlichen europäischen Russland im Jahre 1855. Gera: [printed by A. Th. Engelhardt of Leipzig for] C.B. Griesbach, [no date but circa 1864].

Octavo (8 5/8 x 5 5/8 inces). Pp.[I]-XIV[-XVI; 1-]501[-502]. 54 illustrations (some full-page) and maps (some double-page).

Condition of contents: browned and spotted, occasionally heavy.

Original green cloth, lettered in gilt, paneled in blind

Condition of binding: corners bumped, light scoring to upper edge of book block, endpapers browned, but generally in excellent condition.

Provenance (of published work): Joh. Kuhlmach (various penciled notes and inscriptions, dated to the 1920s and 1930s).

First edition, Gera issue – the sheets are from the same printing as the 1864 Leipzig issue published by Griesbach.

The album of drawings: The drawings in the album are all reproduced in the images which accompany this description and they may be divided roughly into a section on agriculture (from various identified villages or settlements), identified views of buildings and towns (including a very early view of the completed 'Nicholas Chain Bridge' over the Dnieper at Kiev) and finally the homes and portraits of the more noteworthy people encountered en route.

This last group includes the interior of Mennonite leader Philipp Wiebe’s house (with Wiebe seated at a table with his wife), and a fine group of three portraits of the leading Nogai family in the settlement of Akkermen: Mitalip Tenbajew (b.1804); his daughter Adshe Chany; and his elder brother Temir Tenbajew.

This latter family group is particularly important as the Nogai had almost completely left the area by 1861. The author gives a detailed biography of Mitalip and some biographical details of his brother Temir in the published work (pp.219/220), comparing Mitalip favorably to the Mennonite leader Johann Cornies.

Philipp Wiebe (1816-1870), the son-in-law of Johann Cornies, successfully continued his father-in-law’s work. Philipp was born 29 September 1816 in Baerwalde, Prussia, he married Aganetha Cornies (1819-1858). They had four children, with three living to adulthood. Philipp died 15 September 1870 in Ohrloff, Molotschna, South Russia. Phillipp’s son Johann Philipp Wiebe (b. 1849) was instrumental in the transplanting of hard winter wheat from his estates to the prairies of Kansas.

The Mennonite colony of Molotschna in present-day Ukraine “was founded in 1804 [at the invitation of the empress Catherine] by Mennonite settlers from West Prussia [and Holland] and consisted of 57 villages. The city [of Molochansk ] initially was called Halbstadt (Half-city). Known as the New Colony, it was the second and largest settlement of Mennonites in the Russian Empire. In the late 19th century, hundreds of people left this colony to settle in North America. “ (Wikipedia)

The Nogais are a Turkic ethnic group, adherent to the Islamic faith, and are descendants of various Mongolic and Turkic tribes who formed the “Nogai Horde”. Traditionally nomadic herdsmen, they had been encouraged/forced to settle at the end of the 18th century. The sub-group in the southern Ukraine lived alongside the Mennonites in the Molochna region from 1803, when Mennonites first arrived, until 1860, when the Nogais either migrated or were deported to the Ottoman Empire.

Petzholdt, in his introduction to the published work, notes that he undertook this expedition with the official sanction of the Imperial Russian High Ministry of National Education. He admits that although his intentions were purely scientific in nature, he did get distracted at various points, not least by the chance to visit the Crimea as the war waged, and in the published work he describes all these venturings off the purely-scientific track. His travelling companions included a young teacher of Agriculture, two students and ‘an artist’ (A. Grunfeld).

A rough translation of the author’s description of the route is as follows: “From Dorpat [i.e. Tortu, Estonia] I went via Riga [Estonia], Dnaburg [i.e. Daugavpils, Latvia], and Vitebsk [Belarus] to the Agricultural Institute of Gorky in Mohilev's governorate [in Belarus]; thence via Chernihiv [Ukraine] to Kiev. From Kiev I travelled to Ekaterinoslav [i.e Dnipro, Ukraine] along the right bank of the Dnieper River , and went to the Taurian province, where a visit to the Mennonite colonies [in present-day Ukraine] on the Moloschna River, one of the main destinations of my journey, provided a long halt.

After a detour to the south coast of the Crimea, initially with the intention of studying the diseased grapevines [too early for Phylloxera?], I continued the journey along the coast of the Azov sea to Mariupol [Ukraine], from where I turned north to the German and Jewish settlements.

I then visited the Teaching Farm at Yekaterinoslav [modern Dnipro, Ukraine] , as well as the Forestry establishment at Weliki-Anator, and then the Imperial Iron Foundry at Lugan; Kharkov [i.e. Kharkiv in the Ukraine] via Bachmut [ie. Artemivsk, Ukraine]; returning via Kursk, Orel, Tula, Serpukhov, Moscow and Petersburg to Dorpat [i.e. Tortu, Estonia].”

It appears that the author did not get on with the gifted expedition artist Grunfeld – his contribution does not seem to have been acknowledged anywhere in the published work (although his attempts at art criticism annoy the author whilst he is trying to enjoy a picture by Salvator Rosa). In the album Grunfeld is banished to the last line, named by surname only and then in a hand where the letters are much smaller than the rest of the title.

The group travelled in a ‘Tarantass’ – a large four-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle on a long longitudinal frame, reducing road jolting on long-distance travel. It was apparently large enough to carry all six expedition members plus their baggage (in comfort!).

  • Size: various

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