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Heinrich Geissler papers, 1857-1996, bulk 1960-1990

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Finding aid for the Heinrich Geissler Papers, 1857-1996, bulk 1960-1990

Scope and Content of Collection

The archive represents a lifetime of scholarship by the German art historian and museum curator Heinrich Geissler, who devoted his career to the study and attribution of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drawing in the German-speaking regions of Central Europe, most of which were part of the Holy Roman Empire. The archive contains a wealth of research material leading to Geissler's groundbreaking exhibition Zeichnung in Deutschland deutsche Zeichner 1540-1640, held between December 1979 and February 1980 at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, as well as unpublished research material that he continued to compile for ten more years following the exibition. While Geissler's extensive two-volume catalog of that exhibition is considered a handbook for scholars of late Renaissance and early Baroque German drawing, it only represents a fraction of the images present in this archive.

The archive contains a wealth of study photographs, notes, and printed matter; card indexes; Geissler's correspondence as curator at the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; and his collection of annotated offprints of articles from periodicals and other publications. The photographic files are enriched by materials that are interfiled with the photographs, including notes, clippings from auction catalogs and art journals, offprints, and correspondence with scholars, dealers, and collectors. The original location of all items in the archive was maintained in order to preserve the scholarly significance of Geissler's innovative filing system.

The archive includes research material he inherited from another German scholar, Friedrich Thöne. Present is Thöne's correspondence, contact sheets reproducing drawings and other artworks from Thöne's photographic archive, and Thöne's unpublished manuscript "Die deutsche Meisterzeichung." Thöne's prewar correspondence is filed with Series I.A. under Ingolstadt with research material concerning Caspar Freisinger (box 23). Thöne's postwar correspondence is filed with Series I.B. with research material concerning the Bocksberger family (box 36). Contact sheets of Thöne's photographic archive, along with corresponding notes by Geissler are filed in Series II. (box 46). Geissler's correspondence regarding Thöne's archive and Thöne's unpublished manuscript "Die deutsche Meisterzeichnung" are filed in Series IV.C. (box 69).

Series I contains files on individual artists. Comprising more then a half of the archive, it forms the most extensive part. The arrangement follows Geissler's original geographic filing order by region or city. The files vary in extent but most include study photographs, annotated printed matter, and notes. Often inserted are letters to Geissler from art historians and art collectors as well as carbon copies of letters sent by Geissler. The majority of the artists are from German-speaking regions of Europe, but also included are artists from the Netherlands and Italy who travelled to Austria, Germany, Poland, or Switzerland. Especially extensive is the research material on Hans Bocksberger the Elder and other members of the Bocksberger family, Johann Matthias Kager, Hans Krumpper, Hans (Johannes) Rottenhammer the Elder and his sons, and Lambert and Friedrich Sustris.

Series II comprises seven topical groups and two files of unsorted photographs and other research papers. The topical groups include photographs, notes and various papers on paintings of Italian and Spanish origin; the Fryszmann collection; and the Welt im Umbruch and Prag um 1600 exhibitions. Also included here are photographs of artworks Geissler considered misattributed or could not identify.

Series III includes Geissler's card indexes of drawings in museums and private collections, and a card index of artists. These meticulously organized indexes are cross-referenced and refer to thousands of drawings, many more as documented in the first series. A separate group Geissler originally filed here are his notes, letters received, and transcripts of sixteenth-century documents related to his research on the court painter Christoph Schwarz.

Series IV includes Geissler's professional correspondence as the curator of prints and drawings at Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; correspondence concerning the exhibition Zeichnung in Deutschland deutsche Zeichner 1540-1640; and correspondence concerning the archive of art historian Friedrich Thöne. Also filed with this series is a manuscript by Eliška Fučiková, and Thöne's unpublished manuscript "Die deutsche Meisterzeichnung."

Series V consists predominantly of offprints from scholarly art magazines, but complete issues of some periodicals and a few small monographic publications are also present. Some of the articles are annotated by Geissler and some bear dedications from the authors to Geissler. Occasionally inserted are letters Geissler received from the authors, and his notes.


Organized in five series:
Series I. Artist files, 1857-1996, undated;
Series II. Other research files, 1944-1992, undated;
Series III. Card catalogs, undated;
Series IV. Correspondence, 1938-1990, undated;
Series V. Offprints and manuscripts, 1886-1992, undated.

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