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Wenceslaus Hollar

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) was born in Prague, and in 1636 settled in London, establishing himself as a hugely productive printmaker. During the English Civil War, Hollar moved to Antwerp, where around 1645 he produced a series of 41 etchings of shells. All the shells are tropical species, some from the Caribbean or Africa, but most from south-east Asia. They must have been brought back to the Low Countries by traders and explorers to form part of an unknown collector’s ‘cabinet of curiosities’. The etchings were presumably intended for a book that was never published; impressions are consequently very rare, and this appears to be the only complete set.

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