Friday 22 December 2023

An Unpublished Chronogram

This portrait of Ferdinand von Plettenberg (1690-1737) is from the Schloss Nordkirchen in Westphalia. 

Schloss Nordkirchen Chronogram

The following is a transcription of the writing at the bottom of the portrait.
Left Panel:
LaVrIs ornan                 per faCta notanDa proba  
                           DVs                                                 tVs.
Est FerDInan                 PLettenberg stIpIte na
EX zeLo pat                    gratas sIbI DeserIt    
                           rIæ                                                  oras.
Terras    BaVa                peragranDas fLore DeC
e qVIbVs Ipse                BaVarVM fLorente VIg
                          DVXIt                                              ore.
AVgVstVLeo re          per WestphaLa regna nIt
Ars hæC In Cæ               SteLLIs aLbata pates
                              Lo                                                 Cet.
non VnqVaM Ve              nIgrICante neCata senes
Right Panel:
O fortVna                             ALphæ PaDeræqVe CLI
                                 tos                                                  entes.
Monstro sInVs gra                fortes persIstIte       g
CLeMens AVg                    VobIs eX asse fa
                                 VstVs                                             VebIt.
Verè DVX  I                         terras VIrtVte fo
Hos ferDIn                            popVLos sVasore reg
                                 anDo                                                ente.
SaCro sIgno bL                     rIDebIt gente stVp
Ergo SaCer Cr                       per fLorea saCVLa prIn     
                                 esCas                                               Ceps.
Et tV fLor                              tItVLIs FernanDe DeIn

This forms the following poem in leonine hexameters:
Lauris ornandus per facta notanda probatus.  
Est Ferdinandus Plettenberg stipite natus.  
Ex zelo patriae gratas sibi deserit oras.
Terras Bavariae peragrandas flore decoras.
E quibus ipse duxit Bavarum florente vigore.
Augustus Leo reduxit per Westphala regna nitore.
Ars haec in caelo stellis albata patescet.
non unquam velo nigricante necata senescet.
O fortunatos alphae paderaeque clientes
Monstro sinus gratos fortes persistite gentes.
Clemens augustus vobis ex asse favebit.
Vere dux iustus terras virtute fovebit.
Hos Ferdinando populos suasore regente.
Sacro signo blando ridebit gente stupente.
Ergo sacer crescas per florea sacula princeps.
Et tu florescas titulis Fernande deinceps.
My translation:

Honoured with laurels for his commendable deeds,
Ferdinand von Plettenberg was born of noble stock.
Out of zeal for his fatherland he abandoned pleasant shores,
He travelled the Bavarian landscape adorned with flowers,
Where he governs the Bavarians with his flourishing vigour.
Augustus Leo returned to the Westphalian kingdom in style.
This art will appear in the white sky amongst the stars.
It will never grow old, suppressed by a blackened veil.
O fortunate tributaries of the Aa and Pader rivers
A strong people support your pleasing banks in wonder.
Clemens August will favour you alone.
A just leader will truly sustain the lands though his virtue,
When these people are ruled by the good counsel of Ferdinand,
He will jest charmingly at an astonished nation with a sacred sign.
Therefore, sacred prince may you thrive through the flowery ages.
And may you, Ferdinand, increase in one distinction after another.

Each couplet forms the chronogram ‘1719’.

Ferdinand von Plettenberg was from Westphalia, hence the geographical references to the Aa and Pader rivers. In the year of this painting, 1719, he was appointed the Elector of Cologne and Elector of Bavaria Privy Councillor, though the poem is subtle about the nature of his successes in Bavaria.

He also held the positions was Chief Chamberlain and Hereditary Marshal to the Prince-elector Clemens August of Bavaria, who is named in line 11.

facta notanda, cf. Ovid, Her. II.86.