Friedrich Sustris

A design for a wall decoration

Friedrich Sustris was born ca. 1540 in Padua, Italy. His father, Lambert Sustris, was a Netherlandish painter who worked in Italy and, later on, in Augsburg, as court painter to the Habsburg emperor Charles V. In 1560 Friedrich went to Rome, where he worked under Giorgio Vasari from 1563 – 1567, collaborating on the decorations of the Palazzo Vecchio and joining the Accademia del Disegno. In 1569, he went to Augsburg to work for Hans Fugger, a member of the fabulously wealthy banker family. This brought him to the attention of William V, the future duke of Bavaria, who he worked for from 1573 onwards. Sustris gradually rose from painter and copyist to become William’s artistic director, overseeing all artistic projects at his court.

He produced designs for goldsmiths, tapestry weavers, sculptors, and stucco workers and organized a team of painters to decorate the palace interiors. He strongly influenced building decoration, and many admired his light, rich, and elegant motifs. Sustris participated in design and reconstruction of a Jesuit church in Munich, one of the region’s architectural monuments, and designed the decoration of the Antiquarium, the first museum of antiquities in modern times. Stylistically, as can be seen in the present work, Sustris was influenced by both Italian and Flemish mannerism, which was very much in style in the second half of the 16th century.

While in the service of the dukes Sustris was also in charge of large scale projects such as the decoration and the building of a part of Trausnitz castle in Landshut and the decoration of the residence of the Wittelsbacher. The present drawing may have been executed in preparation for an illusionistically rendered wall decoration for one of these projects. The sheet is particularly comparable with a design by Sustris for a wall fountain and a grotto in the residence of the Fuggers in Augsburg, while the classicist architecture and the free translation of forms and washes make the sheet comparable with another drawing, a design made for Trausnitz castle.

Artist: Friedrich Sustris (Padua ca. 1540 - 1599 Munich)
Medium: ink and wash on laid paper
Dimensions: 200 x 195 mm