Inside Out: Clothes, Dissimulation, and the Arts of Accounting in the Autobiography of

Matthäus Schwarz, 1496-1574
Author(s): Valentin Groebner
Source: Representations, No. 66 (Spring, 1999), pp. 100-121
Published by: University of California Press
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Inside Out: Clothes,
Dissimulation, and the Arts of
Accounting in the Autobiography
of Matthaus Schwarz, 1496-1574
Jr. points out in the opening lines of his article on Renaissance portraiture in this
journal some years ago.' But what about series of portraits that make changes in
the sitter their very subject? When each image fixes a (necessarily) brief moment
in the protagonist's changing outward appearance, how can we describe the differ-
ent gazes that such a portrayed self-in-series suggests to or imposes on the beholder?
How did a contemporary of the sixteenth-century want himself to be seen, and
what were the conditions of posing in the German Renaissance, an age of repro-
duced and multiplying images?
On his twenty-third birthday, a bookkeeper from the city of Augsburg commis-
sioned a lavishly illustrated manuscript on parchment: The first page featured him
portrayed in festive garb, a cap on his head and a gold chain around his neck (fig.
1). The panel at the bottom reads: "Today, the 20th of February 1520, that was my
appearance, lMlatthaus Schwarz of Augsburg, just 23 years old."2
The Book of Clothes of Matthaus Schwarz, born 1496, died 1574, occupies a
peculiar position among the autobiographical projects of the Renaissance. It is a
picture-book; Schwarz wished to tell the story of his own life through the story of
his clothes. In a prologue he tells his readers that, as a child, he had always enjoyed
chatting with his elders, and they had shown him pictures of the costumes they had
worn thirty, forty, or even fifty years earlier. As a result, he writes, he had resolved
to portray all his clothes in a book in order to see what would come of it. The
clothes he wanted to preserve in memory are biographical; he therefore explicitly
excludes his carnival costumes.3 They visualize Schwarz's personal history: The
first picture shows him in his diapers; then he is portrayed as a child, in his school
uniform, when he left school (happily trampling on his school books), in his appren-
tice clothing, and in his outfits as a traveling merchant in his company's service.
These are followed by a succession of outfits variously displaying Schwarz at the
visit of the emperor Maximilian in Augsburg; as the proud wearer of a red festive
robe at the wedding of his master Anton Fugger in 1527; as an elegant frequenter
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I~~~~: ___ a/1~.4ifs
;eIc isi Wixn k in nc s~x FIGURE 1 . 1 52 1 portrait of
Matthaus Schwarz, in Matthaus
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(St'at ct-5flgi 3o:4o snk et9 page, manuscript in Herzog
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of patrician lounges, an eager tobogganer in winter sports, a groom, a civic official
during the visit ofthe Duke of Austria in 1530, a military dignitary ofthe municipal
armed forces in 1546; and, finally, in the last picture, as a solemn mourner at Anton
Fugger's funeral in 1560, himself now an old man. The collection amounts to 137
portraits in all by various artists; the texts, in his own hand, provide details of the
pictures and his exact age at the time of each portrait at the bottom of the page.
This unique illustration of a Renaissance civic career, carefully edited and
published by the art historian August Fink thirty years ago, is by now a rather
well-known source among Renaissance scholars.4 In recent decades, the series of
Schwarz's portraits and pictures of his clothes have served to satisfy historians'
hunger for both "intimate" pictures and information on "private life" in a German
Renaissance town. In the following essay, I prefer to read Schwarz's booklet as a
product of the specific urban phenomenon of self-reflection of the first third of the
sixteenth century I am less concerned with the specific male attitude stylized in
Inside Out 101
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Schwarz's portraits.5 What interests me is the process of registering that underlies
Schwarz's enterprise: the construction of what he calls the shape of his general
outward appearance, his "gestalt." Schwarz's booklet does not only contain infor-
mation on male costumes in Renaissance Augsburg. Seen from a different angle, it
may serve as a source for what is concealed or accentuated by these drapings, for
the relationship between the external and the internal, and for perception and
deception in a sixteenth-century town.
However elaborate Schwarz's portraits in the Book of Clothes may seem,
they represent only a small part of his exercises in self-description between 1519
and 1530 the period I will concentrate on here. His father, the wealthy wine
merchant Ulrich Schwarz the Younger, died in November 1519. In the immediate
aftermath of his death, Matthaus embarked upon a voluminous autobiography,
which he entitled, modestly enough, Der welt
Course of the World. Three
months later, he commissioned the Book of Clothes to the Augsburg painter Narziss
Renner. Originally it was conceived as an illustrated appendix to the written auto-
biography: In a considerable number of its illustrations, Schwarz's handwritten
remarks refer to chapters and pages of the now lost text of The Course of the World.6
Narziss Renner painted the first 42 portraits of Schwarz between February
of 1520. The Book
Clothes does not document all
of Matthaus's
life equally; it concentrates on the period when he was between twenty-three and
thirty-four years old. Of the total of 137 paintings, the majority 93 were pro-
duced between the years 1521 and 1530. Evidently, Schwarz enjoyed contemplat-
ing his own image. Apart from the series of portraits in the Book of Clothes, he
commissioned two bronze medallions bearing his likeness, portraits of himself for
his prayer book in large format on parchment, and panel painting portraits. In all,
we know of 130 portraits of him from the decade after 1521 alone.7
This is a considerable number, and it is thus tempting to see Matthaus Schwarz
both as a man obsessed with paintings and portraits and as a witness of a new age,
whether we prefer to call it Renaissance, modernity, or individualism. Whatever
label we choose, something remarkable did take place at the beginning of the
sixteenth century, when Albrecht Durer monogrammed his self-portrait in 1498
(today in the Prado), dated it, and inscribed his name in the first person singular.
"I painted this in my image, when I was 26 years old" a bold, intellectual project
of self-portraiture, asJoseph Leo Koerner has called it, with which Durer altered
and widened the possibilities of human self-perception.8 What were the contexts
and conditions of this presentation of the first person singular in the emerging
autobiographical writing of the period as well as in painting? The Renaissance "I"
was used in playful and close relationship with the alliances, groups, and contexts
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of Schwarz, in Schwarz,
Trachtenbuch, 79.
to which the speaker belonged (or would have liked to belong) rather than in opposi-
tion to them. It projected its fiction of autonomy, an effect directed at the reader or
beholder, outward: No introspection and no conversation with the inner self with-
out an audience; no autobiography without a model, prototype, or " Vorbild," as the
German expression so nicely puts it.9
What could the prototypes be for revealing oneself truly, "as one would
be"? Amid the paintings of his elaborate costumes, Schwarz, inJuly 1526, commis-
sioned a likeness of himself to be painted nude, from the rear and from the front
(figs. 2 and 3). Apart from a 1517 Durer drawing, these are the earliest full nude
Inside Out 103
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FIGURE 3. July 1526 portrait_
of Schwarz, in Schwarz, _
Trachtenbuch, 80._ _
male portraits north of the Alps.'0 Can these images be described as projects of
monitoring and exploring the self?
Schwarz commissioned them a few months before his thirtieth birthday, fol-
lowing the contemporary belief that onJudgment Day, men appeared before their
Lord naked and in the shape they had at the age of thirty or thirty-three. Hermann
Weinsberg, a nobleman from Cologne and a contemporary of Schwarz, recorded
in his diary on his thirty-third birthday a lengthy reflection on the LastJudgment
together with an extensive description of his naked body. Renaissance contempo-
raries were only too aware of the contrived nature of such exhibitionism. In his
Cortegiano from 1527, Baldassare Castiglione relates an anecdote concerning an
aristocratic lady who expressed the wish that she not be resurrected on the final
Day ofJudgment. Asked why, she responded that she found it extremely distasteful
that, facing final judgment, she would be naked for all others to see.1' Thus, how
"intimate" can the pictures of our Augsburg accountant be? The images of
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Schwarz's naked body in his book of clothes do not necessarily reveal authenticity
underneath. On the contrary, they display the subject in his paradise or purgatory
"look," as if these were yet other social events along with Augsburg political meet-
ings, weddings, and funerals.
Indefatigable in the documentation of his face, his clothes, and his body, all of
which he summed up as his "gestalt" and commented upon in the first person
singular, Schwarz presents himself knowingly for the beholder's gaze. In other
words, he poses. The dramatic improvement in representational techniques in the
fifteenth century produced not only paintings but a considerable body of texts on
the art of presenting the (fundamentally male) princely body in public. Clothes,
with their special ability to express inclusion in a certain group or rank and, simul-
taneously, to highlight changeableness and "outer" as opposed to "inner" condi-
tion, played a crucial role in these settings. From Borso d'Este's display of his
sublime taste of fashion to the public of Ferrara, to the French king Charles VIII's
%qFIGURE 4. Hans
woodcut from Copia der Newen
FA~~t ~Z84 < ;2 Ads Ah
t D , :>' < > \ jA SX
(Augsburg, Germany, 1514),
with kind
of Stadtbibliothek
-I-: - -- a; \ > _ : Augsburg.
Inside Out 105
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FIGURE 5. October 1515
portrait of Schwarz, in-
Schwarz, Trachtenbuch, 23.
presentation of himself to the Italian ambassadors in the wake of the battle of
Marignano in the costume of his Swiss enemies, posing meant that both body and
its drapings became carefully stylized matter-new, strange, marvelous matter.'2
Very likely, Schwarz knew the woodcuts from Balthasar Springer's New Histories of
the Newly Found Lands, published in Augsburg in several editions beginning in 1508
and illustrated by the famous painter and wood engraver Hans Burgkmair (fig. 4).
It is even more likely that he knew the hugely successful illustrated Copia der Newen
auss Presilg Landt from the Augsburg printer Erhart Oeglin published in
1514. In these lavishly illustrated broadsheets and books, men and women from
'Allago," "Gunea," "Greater India," and Brazil displayed both their exotic bodies
as well as their exotic clothes made out of animal skins and furs, savages in Ta-
citean poses.
But when Schwarz set out to document changes over time-autobiographical,
historical time-through his series of portraits, what other models were available
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for his enterprise? The Book of Clothes is not on paper, but on parchment, indicating
that one prototype was drawn from genealogical and heraldic books, numerous
examples of which have survived from the German cities of the fifteenth and six-
teenth centuries. They contain a wealth of illustrations of genealogies, coats of
arms, tournaments, and jousting competitions, albeit only very rarely costumes.
Yet a second and truly distinct prototype existed for the close relationship that
Schwarz tried to establish between his autobiography and the description of his
drapings. The emperor Maximilian had his large-scale projects in self-portrayal
initiated between 1514 and 1519; they were produced by the ambitious and increas-
ingly important Augsburg printing enterprises: first Maximilian's illustrated book
of prayer, followed by the Theuerdank, the Weisskunig, and the Freydal. Each of these
Germany, 1985), plate 145.4
__~ ~ ~ ~~~~~~~~~~~Isd Ou 10
FIGURuE 6. Hans
woodcut from Maximilian I
Der weiss
Kunig (17
7 5
Germany, 1985),
Inside Out 107
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books contained several hundred woodcuts by painters including Durer, Hans Bal-
dung Grien, and Burgkmair, tales of larger-than-life acts of chivalry that, in coded
form, combined autobiography, adventure romance, allegory, and costume book.14
Schwarz was a close intimate of Johann Schdnsperger, the Augsburg printer in
charge of these imperial propaganda projects; woodcuts from its unpublished sec-
tions soon circulated around Augsburg. Maximilian's political autobiographies
Theuerdank and Weisskunig were to be partially printed on parchment and, with the
help of improved reproduction
were intended to appear valuable and
thus as strikingly effective originals. Furthermore, the material clearly underlined
the cost of the enterprise. As material, the expensive parchment had a powerful
effect on the manner in which these portraits functioned."5
Or on how they were intended to function. The use Matthaus Schwarz made
of the Emperor's large-scale propaganda project is an ambiguous one. In his self-
portrait from October 1515 (fig. 5), he obviously used the image of the mounted
emperor by Burgkmair from the Weisskunig as a prototype, a figure intended to
glorify Maximilian's victories (fig. 6). But in Schwarz's case the context is different.
He dated the portrait 11 October 1515, the day on which the French king rode into
Milan after the battle at Marignano. The battle ended in triumph for Maximilian's
enemies. In his portrait however, painted six years after the event, the emperor's
loyal Augsburger servant coquettishly posed in French colors, sporting the French
lily in posthumous mockery of Maximilian. Did the clothes portrayed in this pic-
ture ever actually exist?
When Schwarz claimed in the preface to the Book of Clothes that his
only motive for portraying his clothes was to preserve their
what kind of
memory did he imagine such clothes could represent? Textiles in the sixteenth
century were expensive valuables. Schwarz never enters the cost of his outfits in
his notes, for example the price of the splendidly lined jacket with satin finish he
wore to his brother's wedding in 1519. In the previous year, one of his colleagues
in Augsburg, the diarist Lukas Rem, forked out more than thirty-six gulden for the
fabric and lining of a very similar suit for his own wedding the equivalent of five
years' salary for a servant. Schwarz probably procured the fabrics for his ensemble
directly from his employer, the Fugger trading
which imported large
of textiles from
For another
suit in
1524 he noted
with obvious pleasure the brand names of the extravagant fabrics of his outfit: ultra-
sheer scarlets from Valencia, satins from Bruges, silks with a marten fur finish
(fig. 7). They are eloquent testimony to his pride in his taste and in his access to
such materials, to the know-how and prosperity of his firm.16 It is tempting to
read Schwarz's picture book as an exclusive textile catalog of the Fugger company,
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r 43 O t Imufa
t X4*
7 s
is' ar
- 7 of Schwarz, in Schwarz,
their chief accountant as model. It
wasn't; yet
contains a
since it indicates the influence these luxurious fabrics and costumes
had on the
of the
In the sixteenth
century, bribing people
clothes was a
widespread practice,
and the
did so on a
The clothes
of their value in
did so even more
[djetnlich cleidung] ,
as Schwarz defined his costumes for
and social events. In the Book
of Clothes,
he noted
which items
of his ouffits he had received from others as
his 1515 Milan costume as well
as the
1524 mentioned
his hat
from the
wealthy Augsburg patrician
Hans Rot. For the
of his
in March
he received a
sumptuous complete wedding
in brilliant red and
yellow, consisting
of a
doublet, trousers,
with a silk
ruff finish
(fig. 8).
Identical ouffits were
to all
Fugger employees
to be worn
at the occasion: not
a boastful
clothes but also a deliber-
Inside Out 109
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FIGURE 8. Suit for the wedding
of Anton Fugger, March 1527,
in Schwarz, Trachtenbuch, 86. -
ately political gesture. Contemporaries clearly understood the allusions or demon-
strative claims symbolized by these yellow trousers and red silk fringes. It was a
manifestation of political, Catholic, and Fugger symbols in the religiously divided
city-and it was these presentations, among others, that Matthaus Schwarz obvi-
ously wished to preserve.'
As happened throughout late medieval and sixteenth-century towns, increas-
ingly detailed sumptuary laws on dress were issued in Augsburg that would regulate
these precious objects worn on the body. The great Augsburg ordinance of 1537
criticized the prevailing luxury with clothes and sternly admonished the citizens:
In his clothes, one should remain true to his rank and character so that he can be
identified as such and not mistaken for somebody's malevolent look-alike-his "bds
ebenbild," as the ordinance put it.19 Not only a person's social rank but also the
person himself should be identifiable from his clothes. Clothes evidently contained
the power to transform a person into a look-alike or image of someone else.
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'.tFI 9. S e
in th sin ars n n s
had, as agilcaimaadayr, FIGate 9.
accusedof tesnadportrait
famous for his clothingespecialor his tastrachtenbucho
Clothes in the sixteenth
are thus not
necessarily something
had more to do with
a transformation that could
seen as
In the
Ulrich Schwarz senior
as a
chairman and
mayor, attempted
to break the
of the
families of
he was
and condemned to death.rn Ulrich Schwarz seems to have been
famous for his
clothing, especially
for his taste for
suits in
and an
chronicler from the
describes his execution as his
last costumed
to his
were erected in the main
in front of the
of the
patrician families,
their windows
crammed with nobles
forward to
executed. The con-
demned man
finally emerged,
so the chronicler
writes, wearing
a velvet
fur hood embroidered with
and a
black silk coat lined with
marten fur and
featuring large pearl
buttons. This
extravagant clothing
was in-
Inside Out 11
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tended, according to the chronicler, to shame the town's noble families and then
Ulrich Schwarz was hanged in this wonderful getup. In keeping with Augsburg
municipal law, the city's hangman received the clothes of the malefactor as part of
his salary. In the days after Ulrich Schwarz's execution, the same hangman proudly
walked around dressed in the late mayor's final costume until the city at last pur-
chased it from him. Because, writes the chronicler, "the hangman looked and be-
haved in the coat as though he was the mayor Schwarz himself in it."'" The clothes
mysteriously seemed to embody not only the political challenge but also the exe-
cuted mayor in person.
Clothes easily took or absorbed the characteristics of the wearer in the late
Middle Ages and functioned as parts of the wearer's body. Clothes did not conceal
the body, but reproduced and multiplied it. In the Book of Clothes, Schwarz explicitly
refers to this function of costuming (fig. 9). In autumn 1525, he commissioned a
portrait of himself wearing a jacket that was bright red on the outside, bright green
on the inside, and reversible if so desired, as he explains in the text in the margin.
It was this reversible jacket that he wore on risky trips through insurgent Tirol, he
adds proudly, transporting silver and money for the Fuggers in the dangerous weeks
of the Peasants' War of 1525. Deceiving the insurgents by changing the colors of
his jacket and lavishing the peasants with gifts of wine, he had managed to maneu-
ver his way through: With such ploys, Schwarz writes, he "made good friends,"
while others were hit hard and lost their goods.22
Whether it was really so simple to dupe the 1525 insurgents remains dubious.
But Schwarz meant to write not on the Peasants' War, but on urban representation.
The message he conveys to the beholder and reader by this episode is unequivocal:
He who carries precious goods must know how to change clothes. In this way, one
makes "good friends" while others wind up in difficulties.
Schwarz's clothes and the manner in which he had them depicted are
intrinsically linked to politics as well as to his vocation as an accountant. Schwarz
joined the Fuggers at the age of nineteen and remained with the firm for the rest
of his life, traveling to Italy, briefly living in the Tirol, and otherwise basing himself
in Augsburg. He was the chief bookkeeper at the heart of the Fugger enterprise, at
that time probably the largest trading company in the world. Its Augsburg center
and Schwarz's workplace, the so-called golden writing room (Goldene Schreibstube),
are represented in a picture in the Book of Clothes; it is presumably the most widely
known painting from Schwarz's book today and also the least typical: Apart from
a scene with his son from the 1550s, the painting is the only one in Schwarz's book
that shows someone in addition to Matthaus none other, in fact, than the richest
merchant of his timeJacob Fugger (fig. 10).
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I ';#Fc Lctj4'itqc atJ.C~tnr ,''
. ~~~~~r
FIGURE 10. Portrait of Schwarz
:_____ / ;
>withJacob Fugger,
raw~y ~ Trachtenbuch, 28.
In the German sources as well as in the often quoted Italian ricordi and ricordanze
from the end of the Middle Ages, observation of the self, bookkeeping, and autobi-
ography were closely intertwined. A collection of vernacular sermons by the charis-
matic German preacher Johann Geiler of Kaisersberg printed in Strasbourg in
1517 starts with instructions for self-awareness, drawing upon imagery from the
world of affairs. 'As we distinguish money according to its value and weight,"
Geiler maintained, "so we can also distinguish the journey to salvation from the
journey to hell." Only he who observes and reflects upon himself gains awareness
of how far he is from perfection. It is therefore necessary, Geiler admonishes his
readers, to pay the utmost attention to all manifestations of the body23
Matthaus Schwarz, in his own bookkeeping manual compiled in 1518 for
internal use in the Fugger trading house, uses the same link between commercial
life and the necessity for self-awareness and perceptiveness. In this manual, written
two years before he started the Book of Clothes and the first such handbook north of
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the Alps, bookkeeping is identified with constant vigilance and mistrustful scrutiny,
with the observation of one's own body and the bodies of others. It requires an
individual's intense attention, Schwarz writes. Some merchants are slothlike and
careless, "They want to confine everything to memory or to piecemeal scraps of
paper. Such people soon go bankrupt and, what is even worse, do not know why
that has happened." Instead, Schwarz advocates self-monitoring: "Don't forget
anything, write everything down; discover all you can about yourself and your
situation." The only way to avoid mistakes is to carefully enter all important infor-
mation in a number of books, which can then be controlled by being checked
against one another.24 Control through multiple documentation is, in Schwarz's
account, not only the best protection against one's own mistakes; it is even more
effective against cheaters and treacherous employees, an efficient means of control
that makes them, as he ironically adds, "virtuous against their will."25
We have numerous examples of such forms of multiple documentation in pri-
vate accounts and household books of the period. The Augsburg accountant and
merchant Lukas Rem as well as the Nuremberg patrician Anton Tucher kept num-
bers of specialized booklets for registering their expenses: one for their servants; one
for their children; one for the gifts they gave and another for those they received; not
to mention those for household goods, taxes, weddings, and journeys.26 Seen in the
context of this widespread practice, Schwarz's documentation of his clothes was
not so much a personal obsession with his outward appearance as, together with
his autobiography and another lost booklet on his children mentioned in his notes,
simply a part of a larger system of personal records.
Schwarz and his contemporaries may have felt that exact documentation was
an urgent need of the day, since they inhabited a world where talk of fraud and
deception was omnipresent, and they were quick to complain that it was impossible
to rely on anyone. Augsburg chroniclers of the period seem obsessed with accounts
of simulation and treachery. Wilhelm Rem (a cousin of Lukas) complains about the
corrupt princes and the even more corrupt and clandestine practices that prevailed
in Augsburg itself: The heads of the big trading companies would regularly cheat
their shareholders out of thousands of gold coins. The people of the 151 Os and
1520s adapted and focused the old topos from the High and late Middle Ages-
that it was not only that merchants lied, but that merchants lied exceptionally
well on the huge capitalistic expansion of the German companies in the overseas
trade.27 Lukas Rem, the Augsburg colleague of Schwarz in the service of the rival
Welser Company, listed in his accounts of his travels and business transactions
whole ranges of overcharging, extortion, and clandestine maneuvers to which he
had been subjected. He had always done his best for the Welser Trading Company,
he laments, but had been repaid with deception. He had been cheated when he left
the company, but betrayal and deception had lurked even in his own family. The
founding of a trading company with his brothers did not put an end to his uncer-
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tainties; he constantly complained about their insincerity and attempts to cheat
In the eyes of the bookkeeper, Matthaus Schwarz writes in his manual, decep-
tion was ubiquitous and always to be anticipated. Responsible for monitoring and
auditing the account books submitted by the numerous branches overseas to the
headquarters of the Fugger company, Schwarz knew what he was saying when he
wrote about control. In order to protect oneself from deception, one must not only
monitor oneself through constant self-observation and documentation, he reminds
his readers in the manual, one must also be impenetrable, inscrutable. Professional
traders and brokers were able to read plans to wheel and deal from each others'
faces and from the changes in their outward appearance. What could be done about
it? Schwarz advises his readers to be cautious. Do not trust your business partner,
he writes. "Sound him out as carefully as you can. And if someone persuades you
that black is white [wenn Dir einer Schwarzfiur weiss vormacht], be prepared for news
in reverse form [in verkerter gestalt]. Remain silent unless you can give as good as
you get." Schwarz is obviously playing here with both his own name black and
with information in dissimulated, "reverse" form. In another passage of the man-
ual, he gives an ironic translation of foreign business terms, playing again with the
ambiguity of meaning: "Interest is a polite form of usury," he writes,
Italian term for banking and currency speculation) is a polite form of theft."29
If the bookkeeping specialists Rem and Schwarz highlighted self-
awareness and self-documentation as an instrument of personal control against
imminent deception, they made it clear, too, that such memorializing and register-
ing alone was not sufficient. Lukas Rem proudly boasted in his diaries of the cun-
ning with which he and other apprentices stole food and wine during their appren-
ticeships in Lyons. (Despite his constant complaints of overcharging and fraud, the
fortune Rem declared for tax doubled between 1515 and 1525). Matthaus Schwarz
in his bookkeeping manual not only hinted in wordplay at the physiognomy of
trading partners but also added in the final pages a detailed description of how to
manipulate the length of cloth to maximize profits in buying and selling.30 While
deploring and objecting to deception, the Augsburg accounting specialists simulta-
neously emphasized their own competence in deceiving.
Schwarz does not simply achieve this through subtle references to jackets of
changing colors. His Latin motto "Omne quare suum quia" every because has a
why; every effect has a cause crops up very often in his portraits of the 1520s. It
can be read as a mocking reference to the clandestine practices that underwrote
his own success and prosperity, figuring prominently, in the form of an anagram,
Inside Out 115
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on the sleeve of his special reversible red/green coat from September 1525 (fig. 9).
In his bookkeeping manual, in which the maxim first appeared, it sounds almost
cocky. He claims to have written the book for
so that he could see in his
old age what a
a "juggler" he had been. And he adds: "If God allows, I
will learn how to do it even better" without specifying whether he means book-
keeping or juggling. The medallion self-portrait, which he commissioned in 1530,
featured a similarly confident motto: "Health without money is semi-illness / this
is why the world is a bag ofjugglers.""3
The pictures and images of the Book of Clothes, Schwarz's narcissistic but care-
fully designed effort to document his successful self-presentations and their details
in a complex, incalculable, and ever-changing world give us one further clue. To
certain portraits Schwarz added, in his own handwriting, that they were particu-
larly well done by the painter "recht contrefatt," as he wrote.
What does that mean? In modern German Konterfei is a portrait, so the reader
easily skims over the word contrefatt, reading it as "to paint a portrait." In medieval
German, kunter meant a monstrosity, a monster and, occasionally, the devil. It was
also used as an adjective in literary texts and chronicles where it meant "impure,
imitative, deceptive." In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, kunterfeit meant
imitation, something fake, for example an alloy that looked like silver but wasn't,
and literary texts of the late Middle Ages cautioned against hearts made of such
dubious precious metals. In fifteenth-century Italy, the language of commerce used
for the same, for false copies and forgery.32
In the decades after 1500, a new meaning was attributed to the verb contrefatt,
that of the correct copy or the realistic portrayal of something or somebody. But
this seems to have to been a rather slow process. Durer, in his famous first self-
portraits of 1497, 1498, and 1500, and in the accompanying explanatory texts, did
not use the word. But when he portrayed his wife dressed up in Dutch fashion on
hisjourney to the Netherlands in 1521 he noted on the drawing that he had contrafett
her. Was he referring to the clothes, the exotic costume?33 In an appendix to his
Augsburg chronicle written around 1512, Wilhelm Rem recorded an interesting
anecdote. Approximately one hundred years previously, he tells his readers, the
Duke Ludwig of Bavaria stole valuable gilt paintings of the Twelve Apostles from
his brother-in-law in France. In order to cover up the theft, he made forgeries of
the paintings and replaced the originals with these copies "contrafetten," Rem calls
them. But one particularly devout woman, who regularly prayed to the Twelve
Apostles in the same church, noticed something: In the past, when she kneeled
before the image in prayer, her favorite Apostle had looked in her eyes. Now the
saint turned his eyes away from her. She burst into tears, and, asked why she was
crying, replied that the saint no longer wanted to look at her which, according
to Rem, led to the discovery of the forgeries.34
In this anecdote, the well-documented late medieval pious practice of gazing
intently into the eyes of a religious image in prayer turns into a test of an image's
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authenticity; the copied face is a forged face.35 When Matthaus Schwarz used the
term contrafett for the correct depiction of his unmistakable person in the Book of
Clothes, how true and unmistakable were these images? Schwarz's word contrafett
was an ambiguous key term for the techniques of copying of the early sixteenth
century. It refers to unstable relations between the imitated and the imitating and
to tensions between its internal and external aspects.
it refers to the tech-
niques of duplication and reproduction that could convey double connotations and
create malevolent look-alike, "bds ebenbild."
Contrafett, finally, brings us back to the representations of the self in the Renais-
sance and to their multiplication. Today, the original of Schwarz's Book of Clothes
is in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum in Brunswick, Germany. Two copies exist,
both made in 1704, one in the Niedersachsen Federal Library in Hanover, the
other in the Bibliotheque nationale in Paris. Three pictures from the book are used
to illustrate the dawning of a new age of individuality, vanity, and dandyism in the
sixteenth century in "Toward Intimacy," a chapter of the monumental five-volume
History of Private Life, (English edition 1987) by Philippe Aries and Georges Duby.
In the accompanying text, Schwarz's book is described as "a series of self-portraits,
which the artist himself dated and commented upon." There is something true in
that. Although Schwarz employed a painter to paint, to contrafett him, he seduces
the beholder into seeing his book as a series of self-portraits, in which he features
and comments ironically on himself in the first person singular-with success, no
doubt, as the History of Private Life urges the reader to use these images (I cannot
help quoting) as "revelations" of Renaissance "intimacy." Two of the three portraits
of Schwarz printed alongside the text originate, in fact, from the 1704 Paris copy
of the Book of Costumes. Designated as a self-portrait, the reproduction of the copy
is presented as intimate and authentic Renaissance insight.36 Matthaus Schwarz
so fond of fashioning himself as a juggler, would have appreciated that.
In the Book of Clothes, our Augsburg bookkeeping specialist is depicted seduc-
tively as a scintillating self in series. In the sixteenth century, commissioning self-
portraits and writing of oneself did not have the effect of creating a permanent and
stable image. On the contrary, it produced multiple representations for flexible
uses. I have tried to show that such an artful reflection was rooted in the manner in
which Schwarz and his contemporaries reflected on and conversed about portraits,
clothes, bookkeeping, and trading practices in the Augsburg of the 1520s. They
inhabited a world in which persons and things were not necessarily what they
pretended to be a fact with which every half-clever Augsburg merchant and citi-
zen had to come to terms. Can we read Schwarz's book as a true document of
self-reflection, as a Renaissance autobiography? I think so, but it must be as an
autobiography with a minor addendum. In the years before his death, after 1525,
Albrecht Durer remarked on a small early drawing of his that he had kunterfett
himself after his own image in a
"in the year 1484 when I was still a child."
Kunterfett as memory? The anonymous draftsman who made, in 1576, a copy of
Inside Out 117
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the famous artist's self-portrait, also carefully reproduced the signature Durer had
added for authorizing the child's drawing as his own.37 The 1576 copyist, though,
added a small sign, discreet but familiar to us. Like his sixteenth-century contempo-
raries, we too use it to indicate the authenticity of something it is truly there-
and, simultaneously, to emphasize the fact of reproduction: it is not ours. As a
gesture, this sign has come to play a major role in present-day academic lectures:
It is the quotation mark. I would suggest that we read Schwarz's book as an autobi-
ography in quotation marks: "contrefatt." The fact that we easily overlook the dis-
creet signs may have less to do with Schwarz's juggling than with our own desires
to make distant brothers and sisters out of the inhabitants of the sixteenth century,
true relatives for which everything was more real, unequivocal, and authentic than
it is for us today.
This is a revised version of a lecture delivered at the Berlin Humboldt University; the
University of California, Berkeley; the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
at Arizona State University; and the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies, Harvard
University. I am indebted to the members of these audiences for suggestions and criti-
cisms. I want to thank especially Gerhard Wolf, Lyndal Roper, Christine Gottler, Ra-
mie Targoff, Horst Bredekamp, Corinne Schleif, Stephen Greenblatt, and Randolph
Starn for help and encouragement.
1. Harry A. BergerJr., "Fictions of the Pose: Facing the Gaze of Early Modern Portrai-
ture," Representations 46 (Spring 1994): 87.
2. Matthaus Schwarz, Trachtenbuch, 1, manuscript today in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-
Museum, Brunswick, Germany. Unless otherwise noted, translations are my own.
3. The title Book of Costumes or Trachtenbuch usually attributed to the manuscript is therefore
slightly misleading. Schwarz himself speaks of his "klaydungsbuechlein" (booklet of
clothes); see Die Schwarzschen
ed. August Fink (Munich, 1963), 182. In
the following, my notes refer to Fink's edition.
4. For the recent use of Schwarz's booklet see Christian von Hensinger, "A Unique Fashion
Book of the sixteenth century," Apollo 123 (1986): 164 f.; Philippe Braunstein, "Toward
Intimacy: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries," in A History of Private Life: Revela-
tions of the Medieval
ed. Georges Duby, trans. Arthur Goldhammer, vol. 2 of A
History of Private Life, ed. Philippe Aries and Georges Duby (Cambridge, Mass., 1987-
91), 555-56 and 579-82; and Philippe Braunstein, Un banquier mis a nu. Autobiographie
de Matthdus Schwarz (Paris, 1992).
5. Cf. Heide Wunder, "Wie wird man ein Mann? Befunde am Beginn der Neuzeit," in
Was sind Frauen? Was sind Mdnner? Geschlechterkonstruktionen im historischen Wandel, ed.
Christiane Eifert et al. (Frankfurt am Main, 1996), 122-55; and Lyndal Roper, "Blood
and Codpieces," in her Oedipus and the Devil: Witchcraft, Sexuality, and Religion in Early
Modern Europe (London, 1994).
6. Fink, Trachtenbicher,
99. For detailed biographical data, see ibid. 12-16; Alfred Weit-
nauer, Venezianischer Handel der Fugger nach der Musterbuchhaltung des Matthdus Schwarz
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(Munich, 1931); Norbert Lieb, Die Fugger und die Kunst, 2 vols. (Munich, 1952 and
1958), 2:86-88. For examples of references to the Course of the World, see Fink, Trachten-
110, 121 ff
7. Fink,
16, 25-41; Lieb,
2:88; Georg Habich, "Das Gebetbuch des
Matthaus Schwarz," in Sitzungsberichte der kgl. bayr. Akademie der J/issenschaften, Phil. und
hist. Klasse, 8. Abhandlung (Munich, 1910).
8. Joseph Leo Koerner, The Moment of
in German Renaissance Art (Chicago,
1993), 37 and 55. For discussions of Renaissance subjectivity and its forms, see Charles
Taylor, The Sources of the Self: The Making ofModern Identity (Cambridge, 1989); Stephen
Greenblatt, Renaissance Set/-Fashioning (Chicago, 1980); Natalie Zemon Davis, "Bound-
aries and the Sense of the Self in Sixteenth-Century France," in Thomas C. Heller et
al., eds., Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the
W4estern Thought
(Stanford, 1986); and, recently, Roper, Oedipus, 9-26.
9. Berger, "Fictions," 87-120; Patricia Simons, "Women in Frames: The Gaze, the Eye,
the Profile in Renaissance Portraiture," History Workshop Journal 25 (1988): 3-25.
10. Fink,
145 f. Philippe Braunstein, in his French edition of Schwarz's Book-
let of Clothes, not only put one of these nude portraits on the cover but also emphasized
the stripping of the merchant in his title Un banquier mis a nu. He adds: "II le donne a
voir sans fard avec une audace qui n'a pas d'ant&cedent dans l'histoire de l'intimite et
du portrait en Occident"; Braunstein, Banquier, 5 and 112. There is perhaps a bit much
of Montaigne's
naked" rhetoric in this passage. The model for Schwarz or his
painter was not, supposedly, a Renaissance Adam or Christlike representation like
Dfirer's, but an image tradition of more pragmatic origins, the images of naked males
in the medical literature of the fifteenth century. See the example in Nancy Siraisi,
Medieval and Early Renaissance Medicine (Chicago, 1990), 94 f., plates 17 and 18.
11. Konstantin Hohlbaum, ed., Das Buch Weinsberg. Kdlner Denkwfirdigkeiten aus dem 16.
Jahrhundert (Leipzig, 1886), 1:354; on Weinsberg and his writings, see Stephan
und Persdnlichkeitsdarstellung in deutschsprachigen Autobiographien des
16. Jahrhunderts (Trier, 1993), 90-144; Baldassare Castiglione, Il cortegiano (Venice,
1528), 2:54.
12. For a theory of Renaissance posing and changes in the style of visual self-representation
around 1500, see Berger, "Fictions." Cf. Werner Gundersheimer, Ferrara: The Style of a
Renaissance Despotism (Princeton, 1973); Emil Usteri, Marignano: die Schicksalsjahre
1515/1516 im Blickfeld der/historischen Quellen (Zurich, 1974); and Joaneath Spicer,
"The Renaissance Elbow," inJan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg, eds., A Cultural
History of Gesture (Cambridge, 1991), 84-128.
13. Tilman Falk, ed., Hans Burgkmaier. Das graphische Werk (Stuttgart, 1973), plates 30-34;
Copia der Newen
auss Presilg Landt (Augsburg, 1514); for the history of printing
in Augsburg see Bernd Moeller et al., eds., Studien zum stddtischen Bildungswesen des
spdten Mittelalters und derfrdhen Jfeuzeit (Gdttingen, 1983); and Gunther Gottlieb et al.,
eds., Geschichte der Stadt Augsburg (Stuttgart, 1984), esp. 269.
14. Jan-Dirk Muller, Gedechtnus. Literatur und Hofgesellschaft um Maximilian I. (Munich,
1982); Larry Silver, "Prints for a Prince: Maximilian, Nuremberg, and the Woodcut,"
inJeffrey Chipps Smith, ed., New Perspectives on the Art of Renaissance Nuremberg (Austin,
1985), 7-2 1; Koerner, Moment, 224ff.; Fink, Trachtenbacher, 24.
15. Fink,
117; Hans-Jorg Ktinast, 'Johann Schonsperger der Altere," in
Pirckheimer-ahrbuch 1994,99-110; Karl Giehlow, "Beitrage zur Entstehungsgeschichte
des Gebetbuchs Kaisers Maximilian I," in Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlung des
allerhdchsten Kaiserhauses 20 (Vienna, 1899), 30-112; Alwin Schultz, "Der Weisskunig
Inside Out 119
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nach den Diktaten und eigenhandigen Aufzeichnungen Kaiser Maximilians I," in
Jahrbuch der Kunstsammlung des allerhdchsten Kaiserhauses 6 (Vienna, 1888), 226; see esp.
Muller, Gedechtnus, 108ff.
16. Bruno Greiff, ed., Tagebuch des Lukas Rem aus den Jahren 1495-1541 (Augsburg, 1861),
44; for prices and wages in German towns cf. Valentin Groebner, "Black Money and
the Language of Things: Observations on the Economy of the Labouring Poor in Late
Fifteenth-Century Nuremberg," in Tel Aviverjahrbuchfur deutsche Geschichte 22 (1993),
275-92; for textiles, brands, and their precise labeling by Schwarz see Fink, Trachten-
17. Lieb,
1:78 f.; on textiles as gifts, see ibid., 2:14; Max Jansen, Jakob Fugger der
Reiche (Leipzig, 1910), 1 70;Jakob Strieder, Jakob Fugger der Reiche (Leipzig, 1925), 127.
18. On similar public appearances of the Fugger faction "all clothed in one color" see
Clemens Sender, "Chronik," in Karl Hegel, ed., Chroniken der deutschen Stddte vom 14.
bis ins 16. Jahrhundert, 36 vols. (Leipzig, 1892), 32:273; and ibid., 25:361-401. On
Fugger patronage and the "web" of their urban power see Wolfgang Reinhard, "Oli-
garchische Verflechtung und Konfession in oberdeutschen Stadten," in Antoni Mac-
zak, ed., Klientelsysteme im Europa der Friihneuzeit (Munich, 1988), 47-62; Gotz von Pol-
nitz, Anton
3 vols. (Ttibingen, 1958-62); Olaf Morke, "Stadtische Elite oder
Sonderstruktur?" in Archivfiur Reformationsgeschichte 74 (1983): 141-62; and Katharina
Sieh-Burens, Oligarchie, Konfession und Politik im 16. Jahrhundert. 1ur sozialen Verfechtung
der Augsburger Burgermeister und Stadtschreiber 1518-1618 (Munich, 1986), 68 if.
19. 20 Augsburger Ordnungen 7, fol.2v and fol.3r in Stadtarchiv Augsburg. On the
ordnung," see Lyndal Roper, The Holy Household: Women and Morals in Reformation Augs-
burg (Oxford, 1988), 56.
20. On Ulrich Schwarz, see Georg Panzer, Ulrich Schwarz, der
von Augsburg
1422-1478, (Bamberg, 1914). As late as 1502, a former follower of Ulrich Schwarz's,
who had been elected guild chairman, was forced to resign by intervention of the
council; Sender, "Chronik," 98. The painting by Hans Holbein the Elder, donated by
Ulrich Schwarz's son in 1508 to the Augsburg monastery of Saints Ulrich and Afra,
relates to that political background: It pictures Christ showing his wound and Mary
exposing her breast in a (sucessful) plea for mercy and forgiveness before the Lord; the
donor, his wives, and her children kneeling in the foreground, Matthaus among them.
One of the portraits of himself as a child in the Book of Clothes is copied (contrafat) from
this painting, as he explains in a note; Fink, Trachtenbuicher, 11 f.
21. Hegel, Chroniken, 22:432-37; and Sender, "Chronik," 41.
22. Fink, Trachtenbucher,
23. Die Brosamlin doctor Keiserspergs uffgelesen
von Fraterjohannes Paulin, printed
Gruninger (Strasbourg, 1517), fol. 7v; for further examples from economic practice,
see ibid., fol. 8r,
17-18r, 42r.
24. Schwarz's bookkeeping manual is reprinted in Weitnauer, Handel; ibid., 174, 176,
184, 270.
25. Ibid., 177.
26. Greiff, Tagebuch; Wilhelm Loose, ed., Anton Tuchers Haushaltsbuch 1507-1517 (Stutt-
gart, 1877).
27. Wilhem Rem, "Cronica Neuer Geschichten," in Hegel, Chroniken, 25: 100 f., 109, 116,
170, 181; on treachery and simulation as the merchants' vices see Brdsdmlin doctor
Keiserpergs, fol. 14v and 92v.
28. Greiff, Tagebuch, 17, 19, 17, 32f., 64f.
29. Weitnauer, Handel, 180 and 271 f.
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30. Greiff, Tagebuch, 6 and 75 f.; Weitnauer, Handel, 309 f.
31. Fink,
42; on the 1530 medallion, see ibid., 184; on Schwarz's anagram
and motto in the bookkeeping manual (and its careful reproduction by later sixteenth-
century copyists), see Weitnauer, Handel, 184 f. and 272.
32. Matthias Lexer, Mittelhochdeutsches Wdrterbuch (Leipzig, 1872), 1:1772f. and 1:1782;
Jakob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsches Worterbuch (Leipzig, 1854-80), 2:635 f.;
Florence Edler, Glossary of Medieval Terms of Business, Italian Series, 1200-1600 (Cam-
bridge, Mass., 1934), 88; see Konterfei in Wolfgang Pfeiffer, ed., Etymologisches UVdrterbuch
des Deutshen (Berlin, 1993), and in Friedrich Kluge, Etymologisches Wdrterbuch der deutschen
Sprache (Berlin, 1989). For the history of the term and the rise of reproduction technolo-
gies, see Peter Parshall, "Imago controfacto: Images and Facts in the Northern Renais-
sance," in Art History 19, no. 7 (March 1993): 554-79.
33. Albrecht Durer, Drawing of His
1521, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin; see Friedrich
des Kupferstichkabinetts in Berlin (Berlin, 1947), 814. Thanks for this
reference to Corinne Schleif.
34. Wilhelm Rem, "Cronica Alter und Neuer Geschichten," in Hegel, Chroniken, 25:56.
35. Cf. Parshall, "Imago," 557ff.; and Robert Scribner, "Vom Sakralbild zur sinnlichen
Schau," in Norbert Schnitzler and Klaus Schreiner, eds., Gepeinigt, begehrt, vergessen:
Symbolik und Sozialbezug des Kdrpers im spdten Mittelalter und in derfrahen Aeuzeit (Munich,
1992), 309-35.
36. On the copies see Fink,
9. Braunstein, "Toward Intimacy," 556 (self-
portraits). It should be noted, however, that the French original of the complete Histoire
de la vie prive'e, ed. Philippe Aries and Georges Duby (Paris, 1985), 2:547, speaks of
"portraits dates et commentes par lui-meme de
and that Braunstein himself
warns of the dangers lurking in the search for "intimate feelings"; "Toward Inti-
macy," 536.
37. Koerner, Moment, 43 and 47; on Dtirer's engagement in technologies of printing and
reproduction and on early-sixteenth-century debates on copies and copyrights, see
ibid., 207-14. The 1576 copy is today in the British Museum, Print Collection obj. no
5218.1. On Martin Luther's use of the term ebenbild oder contrefect for designating the
fundamental difference between religious images and true objects of veneration, see
Christian Rogge, Luther und die Kirchenbilder seiner
(Leipzig, 1912), 5 f.; and Martin
Warnke, Cranachs Luther. Entwuirfefuir ein Image (Frankfurt am Main, 1984).
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