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Wenceslaus Hollar

13 Sep

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Wenceslaus Hollar - View of Glastonbury - c1661
Etching - paper 21.2 x 34 cm / image 17 x 29.3 cm
General fine condition - signs of handling, small repairs on left edge

WENCESLAUS HOLLAR was one of the most important printmakers to arrive in the UK and whose prints were highly influential in the development of English printmaking. Born in 1607 in Prague, he travelled to Frankfurt in 1627 where he worked for the etcher Matthaus Merian the Elder (see above),before going to work for print publishers in Stuttgart, Strasbourg and finally Cologne. Here he met Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel and Surrey, who was visiting on a diplomatic mission. In 1636, Arundel returned to England with Hollar engaged to copy the great works in Arundel’s art collection. At this time Hollar’s independent work falls into three categories – topography, portraiture and representations of the fashions and elegant amusements of the day. The earliest of his dated English views is a large etching of Greenwich (1637) and a number of major views of London.

 After Arundel’s downfall and exile, Hollar seems to have become loosely attached to the royal household as a drawing master. In 1644 he was at Basing House when it was besieged by Parliamentary forces and he was taken prisoner along with the architect Inigo Jones and the engraver William Fairthorne. He escaped to Antwerp and rejoined Arundel. He stayed in Antwerp until 1652 when he returned to England. He found himself working for unscrupulous print publishers and times were hard. Charles II called Hollar the outstanding topographical draughtsman in England and conferred upon him the title of Scenographus Regius in 1666 which came with a modest pension. Nonetheless Hollar died almost penniless in 1677.

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