CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

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

Information by the organizers

January 17-18, 2013
Leiden, The Netherlands

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

Claes Jansz. Visscher (1587-1652) was one of the most important printmakers and publishers active in the Dutch Republic during the first half of the seventeenth century. Playing on the word “Visscher” (fisherman), he sometimes signed his works in Latin as Nicolaus Ioannis Piscator. Over the past few decades, scholarship has contributed greatly to our understanding of the dynamic role Visscher played in the rise of printmaking in the Netherlands. He is perhaps best known for his excellence in map illustration, his innovations in the genre of landscape prints, and his publication of Dutch picture-bibles. Evidence of his graphic output is enormous, with almost five thousand prints having been issued from the Visschers’ shop, Sign of the Fisher, on the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam. Yet many aspects of the Visschers’ artistic productivity and publishing business remain little studied. This conference aims to broaden our understanding of Claes Jansz. Visscher’s work, as well as the printmaking dynasty he founded, through papers exploring all aspects of the Visscher family’s print business, including 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 Claes Jansz. Visscher (1587-1652), his son Nicolaes (1618-1679), his grandson Nicolaus (1649-1702) and Nicolaus’s widow, Elisabeth Versijl, who continued the firm until her death in 1726. With case studies and theoretical contributions we hope to begin to analyze the significant contributions the Visscher family made in the early modern period.

We invite papers of original research dealing with the Visschers’ working methods, their prolific graphic oeuvres, and their chameleonic roles as draftsmen, printmakers, mapmakers, and publishers. Papers examining, but not limited to, the following topics are most welcome: the “house style” of the Visschers, their collaboration and competition with other printmakers and print publishers in Amsterdam, their relationship with sixteenth-century printmaking in the Southern Netherlands and Italy, issues and attitudes concerning reproductive printmaking, the status of copying, and the re-use of plates, the relationship between word and image in the Visschers’ prints, and consideration of the various genres of material they produced (book illustrations, maps, news prints, picture-bibles, portraits, landscapes, other historical, political, religious, and mythological imagery, etc.). We will also entertain papers that consider the reception of Claes Jansz. Visscher’s prints and the ways in which other artists and publishers responded to his work. Our hope is that an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Visscher dynasty, drawing on contributions across the fields of art history, cartography, literature, history, and religious studies, etc., will greatly enrich current scholarship on the Visscher family.

Presentations for this two-day conference should be in English and 20 minutes in length. For those interested in participating, please send an abstract of no more than 250 words and a CV to the conference organizers: Amanda Herrin ( and Maureen Warren ( before 1 July 2012. Selected papers will be considered for publication in a thematic volume on the Visscher Dynasty.