Jan Luyken - Toren van Babel
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Johannes Luyken was a Dutch poet, illustrator, and engraver. Amsterdam born (1649-1712), Jan was a very important etcher in the period after Rembrandt. His artistry is distinguished by its clarity and detail. He learned engraving from his father Kaspar Luyken. He married at 19 and had several children, of who Kasparus (Casper) also became a renowned engraver. Luyken is most famous for his picture-book "Het Menselyk Bedryf". His son assisted with the making of the book. Luyken Religious Persecutions prints series is 'appalling engravings containing all the tortures that the madness of religion could devise.' As a young man, he published a volume of erotic poetry. Later, influenced by the writings of the German mystic Jakob Böhme, Luyken embraced pietistic Christianity. In his twenty-sixth year, he had a religious experience that inspired him to write moralistic poetry. He became increasingly ascetic and withdrew from society. Luyken died in poverty. In their time, Jan and his son Casper Luyken turned out not only to be extremely versatile but also most prolific artists. In all, their production includes almost 4,500 different prints, of which about one fourth are Casper’s work. Together, father and son collaborated on only 36 prints. Jan and Casper Luyken worked for more than a hundred publishing houses, in and outside Amsterdam. The prints in the books they illustrated feature a great diversity of subjects and are often witty and full of surprising details. Jan chose mostly pious and biblical subjects, whereas Casper depicted more worldly scenes.
Since the 16th century, Dutch artists used prints to promote their art and access a wider public than what was possible for a single painting. During the Dutch Golden Age, (17th century), Dutch artists perfected the techniques of etching and engraving. The rise of printmaking in the Netherlands is attributed to a connection between Italy and the Netherlands during the 1500s. Together with the large-scale production, it allowed the expanding reach of an artist’s work. Prints were popular as collecting items, so publishing houses commissioned artists to create a drawing or a painting, and then print the work for collectors - similar to what occurs at publishing houses today. Dutch printmaking evolved rapidly, so in 16th-century etching prevailed over the engraving. Major Dutch Printmaker Artists: Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hendrick Goltzius, Rembrandt van Rijn, Anna Maria van Schurman, Adriaen Jansz van Ostade, Ferdinand Bol.