Brass of the Month

Copyright © 2017 Monumental Brass Society (MBS)

Page last updated 13 January 2018

December 2017 - JohanFüchting, engraved 1645, Füchtingshof,

Glockengiesserstrasse, Lübeck, Germany


Print this page:

Copyright: Jon Bayliss

I would like to thank Mike Johns and Gerhardt Pilf for their help with the translation

The Füchtingshof is an almshouse, designed by Andreas Jeger. It was built in 1639 for the widows of seamen and merchants under the will of Johan Füchting, who died in 1637 in his 66th year. He had been born in Rietberg, Westphalia in 1571 and had become a member of Lübeck's council in 1628. All this information is given in the inscription of a large brass, composed of three plates in verse epitaph in a very ornate blackletter script written by a prominent writing master. In the curved upper portion of the brass is an achievement of the arms of Johan Füchting, enclosed in an oval around which is further decoration, evidently the work of the writing master as it corresponds to decoration in the his writing manual and on his own monument. The inscription is transcribed thus:

Seel. Herrn Johan Füchtings Hoff und Stiftung.       

                           Her Johan Füchting, der:      

    Anno (:1571:) zu Ritberg in Westphalen geboren,  

    Anno (:1628:) in dieser Stadt Lübeck zu Rath erkoren:

    Anno (:1637:) im 66 Jahre seines Alters Seelig gestorben,

    Durch Gottes Segen zeitlich Güter erworben.  

    Hat davon, laut seinem Testament, aus milder Hand,  

    Für ehrliche Bürgers Wittwen von gutem Stand:             

    Die durch See Feuer oder ander Unglücksschaden,  

    In Trübsal und Noth, nicht mutwillig, sind geraden,  

    Berordnet das Sie ohne Geschennck und belohnen,  

    Diesen Hoff Ehr: und gevürlich follen bewohnen.  

    Solches, des Seeligen Herrn Stiffters letztes wollen.            

    Die Verwaltere getreulichst verrichten sollen:   

    Alles Gott zu Ehren, der Ihnenn wird gebenn,  

    Nach dieser Weldt, aus gnaden, das Ewig lebenn.    

     Arnold Möller, Rechenmeister Schrieb: und Etzts im Jahr 1645

This month's brass is to be found over the entrance of an almshouse rather than in a church but it gives the year of death and age of the person. A more modest English parallel is the brass inscription on Gell's Almshouses at Wirksworth, Derbyshire, which gives some of the same information as does the inscription panel in the church over the alabaster tomb of the founder. Neither is strictly a monumental brass but both are now rare examples of the use of brasses in other settings in past centuries.

    Blessed Master Johan Füchting's hostel & foundation.

Master Johan Füchting who: was born at Rietberg in Westphalia in the year 1571, was elected to the council in this town of Lübeck in 1628, died blessed in the 66th year of his age in 1637.

He acquired goods with God's blessing. From that legacy, by his will, provided for honest burghers' widows of good standing who through no fault of their own have fallen into need through fire, unlucky injury or other accident and who have no other means of support.

He wants you, without reward, to honour this hostel and continue to provide for these people as far as possible.

This, the last will of the founder, the stewards should do their best to achieve. All who do this should, with God's grace, live eternally.

The transcription expands some contractions. The final line identifies Arnold Möller as the writing master who both wrote and etched it. The modern German verb is ätzten but I read the word on the inscription as Etzts, the initial e having much the same pronunciation as ä (the umlaut indicates that an e has been omitted).  Etching was extensively used by German armourers to decorate weapons and armour at this period and it is very interesting to find the technique used this early on a brass inscription, especially as it has been used to remove the background around the lettering.  Arnold Möller the Elder (1581-1655) was a writing and arithmetic master in Lübeck. He was born in the city but trained in Holland, where he had his portrait painted by Frans Hals. He was well known for his calligraphy and had a writing manual published.  

    In December 1633,  Füchting's representative signed a contract with Pieter Adriaensz. van Delft and Aris Claesz., both Amsterdam sculptors, for a large mural tablet of black and red marble and alabaster, costing 800 rijksdaelders. Monuments in the area of the Baltic Sea were often made by Netherlandish sculptors at this period. The monument survives in the Marienkirche in Lübeck. From below the central relief a three branched candelabra projects, also supported by a brass stanchion on the wall immediately beneath the monument. At the junction of the branches is a brass plate engraved with the achievements of the arms of both Johan and Margareta Füchting with a raised letter inscription on its lower half, describing Johan as a councillor and as a warden of the church who had caused the lights to be made and Margareta as his wife. It is dated 1636 and was presumably put in place after the erection of his monument but before Margareta's death in the same (old style) year. Margareta van Langeerke was originally from Kiel and died on the 2 February 1636/7. The dates of death of both Johan and Margareta were added to the inscription panels of the monument using Roman capitals for the months in contrast to the blackletter script of the rest of the wording.

Further along the street from the Füchtingshof is the oldest of almshouse of this type in the city, Glandorps Hof, also with a brass plate bearing a long inscription, half in Roman capitals, with the date of its foundation, 1612, in the border at the bottom.