View of a magnolia tree from the cloister of Lorch Monastery

An important 19-th century photographer of architectureJakob August Lorent

He was a pioneer of photography who made the documentation of medieval monuments his calling: It's thanks to Jakob August Lorent (1813–1884) that early images of Lorch Monastery exist. They show the monastery before it was restored in the 19th century—a truly special treasure.

Tomb of the House of Staufen, image from "Denkmale des Mittelalters in dem Königreiche Württemberg" ("Medieval Monuments in the Kingdom of Württemberg")

The tomb of the House of Staufen, photographed by Lorent.

Who was Lorent?

Jakob August Lorent was a wealthy man. As an independent scholar, he researched and documented historical buildings, not only in Württemberg, but also abroad. In the process, he used photography, an entirely new technology at the time, to document the monuments.

What was Lorent's intention?

Lorent was an adventurous traveler. He traveled in Württemberg between 1865 and 1869. He intended to "photograph all monuments in the kingdom and publish them with short explanatory texts." The focal point of his work was Romanesque and Gothic monasteries and collegiate churches. Lorent published his work in the three-volume publication, "Denkmale des Mittelalters in dem Königreiche Württemberg" ("Monuments of the Middle Ages in the Kingdom of Württemberg").

Southern entrance to Lorch Monastery church, photograph by Jakob August Lorent

Lorent's images reflect peacefulness.

What do his photographs show?

All in all, Lorent took 17 photos of Lorch. He also wrote an extensive chapter about the history of Lorch Monastery. There were photographs of the interior of the monastery church, the crossing pillars, and the furnishing of the monastery church. They show the tomb of the House of Staufen and the grave markers. There are also exterior shots of the southern entrance to the church and the cloister. Lorent populated his photos very sparingly with human forms.

What is Lorent's historical importance?

Jakob August Lorent is one of the pioneers of photography. He gave us much more than just the photographs of Lorch. For example, he took photographs in South Tirol and even in Egypt. His special contribution was that he often documented medieval monuments in Europe before they were added to and restored in the 19th century: he documented their original condition. His photographs are also works of art, carefully considered compositions with great aesthetic charm.

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