Byrsa Londinensis vulgo the Royal Exchange (Royal Exchange, London)
Wenceslaus (or Vaclav) Hollar was born in Prague in 1607, at that time the capital of Bohemia. Hollar began sketching miniatures and maps in his youth. He learned the skills of copper engraving and the technique of etching with subtle gradations of tone and texture. In 1627 he left Prague and spent several years traveling around what is now Germany and Holland and Belgium. By 1636 he was in Cologne when Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, was passing through the city en-route to the Holy Roman Emperor in Vienna on a diplomatic mission. He invited Hollar to join his party to record the journey in pictures. The group traveled up the Rhine, through war-torn areas of Germany, back through the Lowlands and on to London. Howard lived at Arundel House on the Strand between London and Westminster and close to the royal palace at Whitehall. Arundel was one of the great connoisseurs and collectors of his time, a patron of Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyke, both of whom he had attracted to London. Hollar soon began to make drawings of his adopted homeland Hollar worked on drawings for a catalog that Arundel intended to publish. There was a growing number of merchants, gentry, and aristocrats with an interest in purchasing books published by various printers based around or close to St.Paul’s Cathedral. The Earl of Arundel sent much of his collection to Antwerp while he went into exile in Italy, leaving his London home to be trashed by Parliamentary troops. He died in Padua in 1644. Hollar moved with his family across the North Sea to Antwerp. By 1652 the Civil War in England was over and many royalists returned from exile. Soon, Hollar came back to his adopted homeland where he remained for the rest of his life.
The Dutch Golden Age was a period from 1581 to 1672, when the Netherlands experienced the "Dutch Miracle", transcended to the foremost maritime and economic power. In 1568, the Seven Provinces started a rebellion against Philip II of Spain, leading to the Eighty Years' War with Spain and the Thirty Years' War between other European superpowers. Protestants moved from the southern to the northern Netherlands, many settled in Amsterdam, transforming a port town into one of the most important commercial centers in the world by 1630. In addition to the migration of Protestants, there were also influxes of refugees who had previously fled from religious persecution, particularly Sephardi Jews from Portugal and Spain, and Protestants from France. Catholics moved in the other direction - to the southern provinces, modern Belgium. North quickly gained the highest literacy rates in Europe, an abundance of capital, the largest merchant fleet in Europe. The Dutch dominated trade in the Baltic Sea, between China and Japan, and with the English colonies in North America. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) was the first multinational corporation, financed by shares that established the first modern stock exchange. The Bank of Amsterdam, the first central bank, was established in 1609. The Dutch Golden Age is the art period dominanted by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jacob van Ruisdael, and Frans Hals. Some notable artistic styles and trends include Haarlem Mannerism, Utrecht Caravaggism, the School of Delft, the Leiden fijnschilders, and Dutch classicism. 1672 is called a disaster year" when the Dutch Republic was attacked by England, France, Münster, and Bavaria. The invading armies quickly defeated most of the Dutch States Army and conquered part of the Republic.