Book review Book Review: "SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS - Die Skulpturen des britischen Königsschiffes von 1637" by Hendrik Busmann

Uwek

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Book Review:
SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS
- Die Skulpturen des britischen Königsschiffes von 1637

by Hendrik Busmann

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  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 311 Seiten
  • Verlag: CONVENT Hamburg (2002)
  • Sprache: Deutsch
  • ISBN-10: 3934613195
  • ISBN-13: 978-3934613195
  • Verpackungsabmessungen: 27,4 x 21,5 x 3 cm / 1.580 gramm

Doctor Thesis originally published by Convent - organised by Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum



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SYNOPSIS:
original in german

Die SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS, erbaut 1635 bis 1637 für König Charles I. von Großbritannien, zählt zu den außergewöhnlichsten Seglern des 17. Jahrhunderts. Ihre technikgeschichtliche Bedeutung wurde schon in zahlreichen Fachveröffentlichungen herausgestellt. Dieser Band, illustriert mit über zweihundert zum Teil farbigen Abbildungen und drei großen Faltplänen, widmet sich erstmals der prachtvollen künstlerischen Ausstattung des Schiffes, das vor mehr als 300 Jahren verbrannte.
Ausgehend von der Frage nach dem praktischen Zweck der mehr als tausend blattvergoldeten Figuren, befaßt sich Hendrik Busmann mit den Funktionen des Königsschiffes als Medium herrscherlicher Selbstdarstellung. Dabei wird deutlich, daß es sich entgegen landläufiger Meinung keineswegs um bloße Dekoration handelt. Dem Schnitzwerk liegt vielmehr ein komplexes ikonographisches Programm zugrunde, welches elementare Repräsentationsaufgaben erfüllt und deshalb einen unverzichtbaren Bestandteil des Gesamtkunstwerkes bildet.
Im zweiten Teil des Buches folgt eine umfassende Deutung des Programms. Vor dem kulturgeschichtlichen Hintergrund absolutistischer Herrscherideologie, deren Wurzeln bis ins Mittelalter zurückreichen, eröffnet sich dem Leser die Geisteswelt der frühen Stuartkönige. Er erhält damit den Schlüssel zum Verständnis der in allegorischer »Bildsprache« komponierten Skulpturenzyklen.
So liefert Busmann nicht nur einen wichtigen Forschungsbeitrag zum Schiff, sondern weist auch neue Wege zu einer angemessenen Würdigung der tragischen und oft mißverstandenen Person Charles' I. Die akribische Arbeit Busmanns wurde im Dezember 2004 mit dem von der Philisophischen Fakultät der Universität zu Köln verliehenen Preis der Offermann-Hergarten-Stiftung ausgezeichnet.

Translated into english
The SOVEREIGN OF THE SEAS, built between 1635 and 1637 for King Charles I of Great Britain, is one of the most extraordinary sailing ships of the 17th century. Its importance in terms of technical history has already been emphasized in numerous specialist publications. This volume, illustrated with over two hundred partially colored illustrations and three large folding plans, is dedicated for the first time to the magnificent artistic equipment of the ship, which was destroyed by fire more than 300 years ago.
Starting from the question of the practical purpose of the more than a thousand leaf-gilt figures, Hendrik Busmann deals with the functions of the royal ship as a medium of authoritative self-representation. It becomes clear that, contrary to popular opinion, it is by no means mere decoration. Rather, the carving is based on a complex iconographic program that fulfills elementary representational tasks and therefore forms an indispensable component of the Gesamtkunstwerk.
The second part of the book is followed by a comprehensive interpretation of the program. Against the cultural-historical background of absolutist ruler ideology, whose roots date back to the Middle Ages, the reader opens up the spiritual world of the early Stuart kings. He thus receives the key to understanding the sculpture cycles composed in allegorical »imagery«.
Thus, Busmann not only provides an important research contribution to the ship, but also points out new ways for a proper appreciation of the tragic and often misunderstood person Charles' I. The meticulous work of Busmann was in December 2004 awarded by the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Cologne awarded the Offermann Hergarten Foundation.

the book with the three fold out plates
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About the Author

Hendrik Busmann, Jahrgang 1955, studierte Kunstgeschichte, Archäologie und Volkskunde an den Universitäten Köln und Bonn und promovierte 1998 mit dem vorliegenden Werk. Neben seiner wissenschaftlichen Forschungsarbeit sammelte er auch Erfahrungen in praktischer Seemannschaft bei Fahrten als Deckshand, Bootsmann und Takler auf Rah- und Gaffelseglern.

Hendrik Busmann, born in 1955, studied art history, archeology and folklore at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn and obtained his doctorate in 1998 with the present work. In addition to his scientific research work, he also gained experience in practical seamanship during trips as a deckhand, boatswain and riggers on Rah and Gaffelseglern.

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Content:

I. Vorwort und Einleitung
II. Die Geschichte des Schiffes
- Die Baugeschichte
- Die Dienstzeit des Schiffes (mit Umbauten)
III. Die Künstler
- Die Bildhauer John und Matthias Christmas
- Der Dichter Thomas Heywood
IV. Zeitgenössische Darstellungen des Schiffes
- Vorbemerkungen
- Bildquellen
1. Der „Bostoner Entwurf“
2. Der Stich von John Payne
3. Die „Morgan-Zeichnung“
4. Das Porträt mit Peter Pett
5. Kriegsrat 1673
6. Rotterdamer Zeichnung
7. Canterbury Zeichnung
8. Greenwich-Zeichnung 1675 (?)
9. Gillingham-Panorama
10. Greenwich-Zeichnung 1685 (?)
11. Greenwich-Seestück
Schriftquellen
1. Heywoods „True Description“
2. Sonstige Dokumente
V. Beschreibung des Skulpturenschmucks
- Vorbemerkungen
- Allgemeine Anordnung der Skulpturen
- Das Galion
- Die Bordwände
- Die Schotten
- Die Seitengalerien
- Die Heckfassade
- Zusammenfassende Übersicht der Skulpturenverteilung
VI. Voraussetzungen zur Interpretation
- Vorbemerkungen
- Kunst und Rhetorik
- Von der Ideologie absolutistischen Königtums
- Der politische Hintergrund
VII. Die Deutung des Skulpturenprogramms
- Vorbemerkungen
- Der legitime Anspruch auf die Meeresherrschaft
- Kein echter Friede ohne überzeugenden Sieg
- Wahre Fürstentugenden
- Strahlende Helden aus der Geschichte Britanniens
- Unterworfene dunkle Mächte
- Der Triumph des Friedenfürsten
1. Der Monarch als Weltherrscher
2. Das Licht der Welt
3. Der Segen der Götter
VIII. Schlussbetrachtung
IX. Anlagen und Quellenverzeichnis


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Comment & Recommendation

The book draws a very own way on how to deal with a ship. The author provides a whole new look at the subject of "ornaments", since he has dealt intensively with the ornaments of the "Sovereign of the Seas" and thus probably one of the few authors who in detail discuss such a magnificent ship from a completely different perspective. This is definitely successful for the author, the part of the book, where he swings towards interpretations and interpretations, certainly provides the greatest potential for criticizing this work. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to read this dissertation, because it combines history with art in a very successful way. The writing style of the work is of course very scientific and well over 1000 footnotes and a very interesting appendix do the rest. In general you should have read this book quite well, as it is interesting for history friends, as well as for modelers alike

It comes with three inserts, which include the view of the hull from port side from the Payne engraving, the Van de Velde sketch of the port side and the painting from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston of the starboard side which is attributed to Peter Pett.

The book is written in German but does provide a wealth of information in photos with closeups of specific areas on the hull.

- highly recommended.


More Look Inside:

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You can find more look inside photos in the following post ......
 

NMBROOK

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Great review Uwek.I would add that this book is essential if you are modifying a kit or building from scratch a model of this vessel.I had to wait 4 months for my copy to come up on Amazon and actually came from the USA!Copies do come up but it is worth waiting for one that isn't up for a silly price.My copy was the cheapest I had seen but still cost just over a hundred pounds by the time it reached my door.There were copies selling for £400 plus!

Regards

Nigel
 

Uwek

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Great review Uwek.I would add that this book is essential if you are modifying a kit or building from scratch a model of this vessel.I had to wait 4 months for my copy to come up on Amazon and actually came from the USA!Copies do come up but it is worth waiting for one that isn't up for a silly price.My copy was the cheapest I had seen but still cost just over a hundred pounds by the time it reached my door.There were copies selling for £400 plus!

Regards

Nigel
The strange thing is really the trend of the prices of such specialist publications.
Originally this book was 79 Euro,
Due to the fact, that this book was not sold very good, after two years the bookshops sold it for 5 to 10 Euros.
Now it is not available any more in normal bookshops - the price is rising extremely for used copies.
Your mentioned price of 400 GBP, is maybe not the normal selling price, but the price one seller is asking for...... We do not know, if people will spend so much money
 
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The strange thing is really the trend of the prices of such specialist publications.
Originally this book was 79 Euro,
Due to the fact, that this book was not sold very good, after two years the bookshops sold it for 5 to 10 Euros.
Now it is not available any more in normal bookshops - the price is rising extremely for used copies.
Your mentioned price of 400 GBP, is maybe not the normal selling price, but the price one seller is asking for...... We do not know, if people will spend so much money

I'd pay 200 Euro for this book. 400 euro seems a bit much...
 

Uwek

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There are some drawings on the web-page of the NMM available

j1999.jpg
Scale: 1:48. Plan showing the body plan, sternboard decoration, sheer lines with broadside decoration and figurehead, and longitudinal half-breadth for the Sovereign of the Seas (1637), a 102-gun First Rate, three-decker. The plan refers the ship as the Royal Sovereign, which was her name after the 1659-60 rebuild

j1998.jpg
Scale: 1:48. Plan showing the body plan with some decoration detail, sheer lines with stern quarter detail and figurehead, and longitudinal half-breadth for Royal Sovereign (1637), a 102-gun First Rate, three-decker. The plan refers to the ship as the Royal Sovereign, despite providing a build date of 1637 when she would have been known as Sovereign of the Seas. Compared to the depiction of the stern by the elder Van de Velde, the plan illustrates the ship as she was originally built, rather than as she was re-built in 1659-1660


and photos of a beautiful model built in 1830

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Scale: 1:48. A full hull model of the 'Sovereign of the Seas' (1637), a 100-gun three-decker ship of the line, built in bread and butter fashion. Model is decked partially equipped including three stump masts, and mounted on its original baseboard. The model is one of a series commissioned in 1827 by Sir Robert Seppings, Surveyor of the Navy, for display in his ship model gallery at Somerset House. As with the actual ship, it is richly decorated, executed in boxwood on the model, to a very high standard. Built in the Royal Dockyard, Chatham by Phineas Pett, the ‘Sovereign of the Seas’ was the largest ship ever built and measured 168 feet along the gun deck by 48 feet in the beam and a tonnage of 1141 burden. The sheer cost and size of the building of this ship generated a lot of interest at the time. A personal interest by King Charles I, who was presented with a scale model of the ship, gave added kudos. The ship was rebuilt in 1660 and 1685, taking part in the many action of the Dutch fleet between 1652 and 1692. The eventual fate of the ‘Sovereign of the Seas’ came in 1696 when it was accidentally burnt at Chatham


and here you can find some other paintings of the Sovereign of the Seas 1637

 

Maarten

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There are some drawings on the web-page of the NMM available

View attachment 109081
Scale: 1:48. Plan showing the body plan, sternboard decoration, sheer lines with broadside decoration and figurehead, and longitudinal half-breadth for the Sovereign of the Seas (1637), a 102-gun First Rate, three-decker. The plan refers the ship as the Royal Sovereign, which was her name after the 1659-60 rebuild

View attachment 109082
Scale: 1:48. Plan showing the body plan with some decoration detail, sheer lines with stern quarter detail and figurehead, and longitudinal half-breadth for Royal Sovereign (1637), a 102-gun First Rate, three-decker. The plan refers to the ship as the Royal Sovereign, despite providing a build date of 1637 when she would have been known as Sovereign of the Seas. Compared to the depiction of the stern by the elder Van de Velde, the plan illustrates the ship as she was originally built, rather than as she was re-built in 1659-1660


and photos of a beautiful model built in 1830

View attachment 109083

View attachment 109084

View attachment 109085

View attachment 109086
Scale: 1:48. A full hull model of the 'Sovereign of the Seas' (1637), a 100-gun three-decker ship of the line, built in bread and butter fashion. Model is decked partially equipped including three stump masts, and mounted on its original baseboard. The model is one of a series commissioned in 1827 by Sir Robert Seppings, Surveyor of the Navy, for display in his ship model gallery at Somerset House. As with the actual ship, it is richly decorated, executed in boxwood on the model, to a very high standard. Built in the Royal Dockyard, Chatham by Phineas Pett, the ‘Sovereign of the Seas’ was the largest ship ever built and measured 168 feet along the gun deck by 48 feet in the beam and a tonnage of 1141 burden. The sheer cost and size of the building of this ship generated a lot of interest at the time. A personal interest by King Charles I, who was presented with a scale model of the ship, gave added kudos. The ship was rebuilt in 1660 and 1685, taking part in the many action of the Dutch fleet between 1652 and 1692. The eventual fate of the ‘Sovereign of the Seas’ came in 1696 when it was accidentally burnt at Chatham


and here you can find some other paintings of the Sovereign of the Seas 1637

Hi Uwe,

The top drawing seems to be based on the model of epping instead of the actual royal sovereign of 1660 as drawn by van de velde. The 1660 royal sovereign had a rebuild stern and side galleries whareas the epping model only has a redesigned stern which is not in line with the Van de Velde drawing who was a time compagnion of the actual ship and most probably had seen the actual thing.
Guess the stern of the sots will always be a point of discussion, same as if she had a flat or round tuck which is not clear of the Lely painting as well as the van de velde drawing. Allthough the royal sovereign of 1660 seems to have a round tuck.
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Thanks Uwek for a considered review. This book has aided me in my build of the Sovereign and I would recommend it for anyone building this ship model. It is not readily available as has been mentioned and I am surprised at some of the prices quoted for copies. As there are no contemporary plans for the Sovereign this is the next best thing to obtain information for modifying a kit or scratch building this ship.

Bill
 
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There are some drawings on the web-page of the NMM available

View attachment 109081
Scale: 1:48. Plan showing the body plan, sternboard decoration, sheer lines with broadside decoration and figurehead, and longitudinal half-breadth for the Sovereign of the Seas (1637), a 102-gun First Rate, three-decker. The plan refers the ship as the Royal Sovereign, which was her name after the 1659-60 rebuild

View attachment 109082
Scale: 1:48. Plan showing the body plan with some decoration detail, sheer lines with stern quarter detail and figurehead, and longitudinal half-breadth for Royal Sovereign (1637), a 102-gun First Rate, three-decker. The plan refers to the ship as the Royal Sovereign, despite providing a build date of 1637 when she would have been known as Sovereign of the Seas. Compared to the depiction of the stern by the elder Van de Velde, the plan illustrates the ship as she was originally built, rather than as she was re-built in 1659-1660


and photos of a beautiful model built in 1830

View attachment 109083





View attachment 109086


This model may well have been the inspiration for the Mantua/Sergal kit as the stern representation is quite different from contempary depictions in paintings and sketches. A lovey model nonetheless.

Bill
 
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Maarten

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Uwek

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It is a model of the Kriegstein collection - in exhibition in the USNA - United States Naval Academy Museum in Anapolis, Maryland
The model was built between 1918 and 1920, by Henry Culver and Paul Chalfin. So it is not a contemporary model, and the ornaments are definitely not based on the latest historical knowledge and research. -> But definitely a great looking model built in high quality


BTW: click trough the 7 pages with models - there are great models to see

A view from the other side of the model
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