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Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77)

A portrait of Wenceslaus Hollar holding an etched plate c. 1649

Etching | 16.0 x 11.3 cm (platemark) | RCIN 803469

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  • A portrait of Wenceslaus Hollar; half length, almost full face. He is holding his etched plate after a painting of St Catherine attributed to Raphael, now lost but then in the Arundel collection. On the table before him are etching needles, an engraver’s burin, a bottle of acid and other tools of his trade; in the distance is a view of his native city, Prague, and at top left his family’s coat of arms. Inscribed below: WENCESLAUS HOLLAR / Gentilhomme ne a Prage l’an 1607. a esté de nature fort inclin pr l’art de miniature principa: / lement pour esclaircir, mais beaucoup retardé par son pere, l’an 1627, il est party de Prage aijant / demeure en divers lieux en Allemaigne, il c est addone pour peu de temps a esclaircir et aplicquer / leau forte, estant party de Coloigne avec le comte d’Arondel vers Vienne et dillec par Prage / vers lAngleterre, ou aijant esté serviteur domestique du Duc de Iorck, il s’est retire de la cause / de la guerre a Anvers ou il reside encores. / Ie. Meyssens pinxit et excudit.

    As the inscription relates, Wenceslaus Hollar was born in Prague to a prominent family; after training as an artist against his father’s wishes, he worked as an etcher and landscape draughtsman in various cities throughout Germany. In 1636 he joined the embassy of the Earl of Arundel, travelling from Cologne to Vienna and Prague, afterwards returning to London with Arundel. For the next eight years he worked in England, producing a wide range of etchings (including reproductions of works of art in Arundel’s collection) and serving in the household of the young Duke of York (later James II), probably as a drawing master, until the Civil War compelled Hollar to move to Antwerp. There he collaborated with various publishers, including the painter and engraver Jan (or Joannes) Meyssens. In 1649 Meyssens published his Image de divers hommes d’esprit sublime…, a collection of portrait prints of famous men, including artists and printmakers, in the manner of Anthony van Dyck’s Iconographia. This is one of nine plates by Hollar in Meyssens’s publication. It reproduces a lost painting by Meyssens himself.

    Text adapted from Portrait of the Artist, London, 2016
  • Medium and techniques



    16.0 x 11.3 cm (platemark)

    17.8 x 13.2 cm (sheet of paper)

  • Object type(s)