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Historisches Seminar

Joseph Furttenbach - the Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Engineer and Collector

Joseph Furttenbach the Elder (1591-1667) was a Swabian architect, scenographer and engineer as well as a collector and prolific writer. During his youth he spent twelve years in Italy, absolving a mercantile apprenticeship in Milan and Genoa. His interests in arts and techniques lead him to undertake extensive travels across the peninsula: in Florence he even met Galileo Galilei. Back in Swabia, he settled down as a magistrate and merchant in the imperial city of Ulm. Thanks to his cabinet of curiosities and his numerous treatises, during decades he played an important role in the transfer of Italian Renaissance and Baroque culture to the Holy Roman Empire. Together with Kaspar von Greyerz and Kim Siebenhüner, in 2013 I have published a critical edition of Joseph Furttenbach's diary (Lebenslauff, 1652-1664): an autobiographical text which provides fascinating insights into the daily life of a pious Lutheran, a member of the urban elite and a renowned scholar of seventeenth-century Germany.


Joseph Furttenbach, Lebenslauff, 1652-1664, edited by Kaspar von Greyerz, Kim Siebenhüner and Roberto Zaugg, Böhlau (series: Selbstzeugnisse der Neuzeit), Köln 2013, 358 pp.