The Courtauld Institute of Art is delighted to announce the launching of the website and online exhibition Picturing the Netherlandish Canon (http://www.courtauld.org.uk/netherlandishcanon/index.html).
The website makes available, for the first time, high-quality digital images of a crucial early modern publication on art and Netherlandish culture to a world-wide audience free of charge. This is Hendrick Hondius the Elder’s Pictorum aliquot celebrium, præcipueì Germaniæ Inferioris, effigies ( The Hague, 1610), which contains 68 portrait prints of Netherlandish artists. The site also provides the first full English translation of all the accompanying Latin texts, as well as identifying various sub-groupings within the series and publishing analytical essays by leading scholars.
The Picturing the Netherlandish Canon online exhibition allows the reader/viewer to ‘page through’ a complete series of the Effigies, as if the bound volume were in front of him or her. The prints can be studied in extraordinary detail and each individual portrait is accompanied by a transcription of the neo-Latin poem and its English translation, as well as basic bibliographic information and links to the accompanying biographies in Karel van Mander’s 1604 Het schilderboek and to the Grove Dictionary of Art.
In addition, two related essays offer critical commentary on Hondius’s Effigies. Stephanie Porras’s contribution focuses on the material history of the publication (of diverse authorship and variable quality), the core of which is based on Hieronymus Cock’s smaller and better-known series of artist portraits published in Antwerp in 1572. She situates the 1610 Effigies within the widespread practice of reprinting older Flemish prints and the emergence of a market for ‘Netherlandish’ subjects.
Joanna Woodall’s essay looks beyond ‘likeness to the life’ to study the distinctive yet related ways in which these two series of prints produce subjectivity within the category of the Netherlandish artist. She argues that death is in fact fundamental to both series. The 1572 Effigies mourn the loss of ultimate contact with a living model and at the same time begin to imagine life and authority in the figure of the artist in print in different ways. One of these was the ‘artistic’ print, which privileged the maker’s hand in the work. The less ‘elevated’ images of the 1610 publication follow a different trajectory, imbuing the subjects of the portraits with life by invoking various kinds of movement.
Visitors to the website may also view the earlier Antwerp series Pictorum aliquot celebrium Germaniae inferioris effigies published in 1572 by the widow of Hieronymus Cock, Volcxken Dierckx. The 1572 prints can be viewed alongside Hondius’s 1610 Effigies, allowing for direct comparison between the engraved and etched portraits. The website also identifies and collects various sub-groupings within the 1610 Effigies (architects, German artists, texts with references to travel, etc.), which allows scholars to appreciate the diversity and complexity of Hondius’s print series.
Funded by the Courtauld Institute of Art and the British Academy, the Picturing the Netherlandish Canon website aims to act not only as a scholarly resource, but as a forum for discussion and continued debate. The project therefore solicits additional bibliographic references and critical commentary, pertaining either to the 1610 Effigies or to individual portrait prints, for inclusion on the site. If you would like to contribute material to be incorporated online, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, academic affiliation and proposed addenda.