CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Claes Jansz. Visscher and his Progeny. Draftsman, Printmakers and Print Publishers in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam

Research Conference: 17 January - 18 January 2013

From the conference website, 28 November

Organized by: Amanda K. Herrin (Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, Kress Institutional Fellow, Universiteit Leiden) and Maureen E. Warren (Northwestern University, Kress Institutional Fellow, Universiteit Leiden), in cooperation with the Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen (Institute for Cultural Disciplines) and Kunsthistorisch Instituut der Rijksuniversiteit at Universiteit Leiden

Keynote speaker: Huigen Leeflang, Curator of Prints, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

At the turn of the seventeenth century, Amsterdam was a vibrant center for artistic production, global trade, scientific endeavors, mapmaking, and print publishing. At the center of this flourishing city, an aspiring young artist named Claes Jansz. Visscher (1587–1652) threw open the doors to his new print shop ‘The Fisher’ – located first on the city’s well-trafficked Kalverstraat and later on the equally popular Dam Square – in 1611. Graphic output under the Sign of the Fisher reached almost five thousand prints and while Visscher is best known for his excellence as a mapmaker, his innovations in the genre of landscape prints, and his publication of Dutch picture Bibles–his interests extended beyond this to include newsprints, ornamental prints, animal subjects, and more. It was by way of his successful and long-lived venture that Claes Jansz. Visscher – succeeded by his son Nicolaes (1618-1679), his grandson Nicolaus (1649-1702) and Nicolaus’s widow, Elisabeth Versijl, who directed the firm between 1702 and her death in 1726 – reigned as the head of one of the most important print publishing dynasties in the Dutch Republic.

At present, though Claes Jansz. Visscher is widely recognized as an important figure in the nascent Republic’s print culture, both the artist and the publishing house he founded remain surprisingly under-studied. As one of the chief producers of maps and prints in early modern Europe, the Visscher family has been a victim of its own success; its production is too varied and copious for any one individual scholar to tackle. Our conference, “Claes Jansz. Visscher and his Progeny: Draftsmen, Printmakers and Print Publishers in 17th-Century Amsterdam,” brings together an international group of print experts, specialists, and scholars to present new research investigating the work and legacy of this innovative and business-savvy artist as well as the print dynasty he established. With contributions exploring the Visschers’ workshop practices, personal and professional networks, distribution to local and foreign markets, and the production, marketing, diffusion, and reception of graphic artworks drafted, printed, and published by the Visschers, our conference aims to shape a better understanding of the significant contributions of the Visscher family in the early modern period.

For the full program and the registration form (registration is required), please see the conference website:

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