• During its age of imperial greatness in the 17th and early 18th centuries, Sweden was an important European power. Sweden’s rise in stature coincided largely with the 1611–32 reign of King Gustavus Adolphus. Under his leadership, Sweden increased its military capacity, seized significant territories on the continent of Europe, and championed Lutheranism at a time of great confessional strife. This copper engraving depicts the king at the zenith of his career. The engraving is by Lucas Kilian, a Dutch- and Italian-trained artist who lived most of his life in Augsburg. In the background can be seen the city of Frankfurt am Main, which initially resisted conquest by the king. True to its genre, the purpose of this regal equestrian portrait was to strengthen the public image of the king not as a national icon, but rather as a hegemonic European power broker. Gustavus Adolphus was killed at the November 1632 Battle of Lűtzen, which pitted Sweden and the German Protestant states against the forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic League.


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Title in Original Language

  • Gustavus Adolphus D.G. Svecorum, Gothorum, et Vandalorum Rex, Magnus princeps Finlandiæ, DVX Ethoniæ et Careliæ, nec non Ingriæ dominus


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Physical Description

  • 1 print : engraving ; 41 x 32 centimeters