Title Page: Characaturas by Leonardo da Vinci, from Drawings by Wincelslaus Hollar, out of the Portland Museum
After Wenceslaus Hollar (Bohemian, Prague 1607–1677 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.