The contribution of the engravers to the Iconography must not be underestimated. To consider the Iconography simply as an artistic achievement of Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), alone is an untruth, which he might well have acknowledged. Proof of this bold statement is contained in the Iconography itself, as five of the eight engravers who worked on the original eighty plates, which were later to be incorporated in the Iconography, have their portraits included in the copy at the Worth Library. These are Paulus Pontius (1603-1658), Lucas Vorsterman (1595-1675), Willem Hondius (1597-1658), Pieter de Jode the Younger (1606-1674), and Robert van Voerst (1597-1636). The copy of the Iconography in the Worth Library was printed by Gillis Hendricx in 1646, and the title page indicates that it contains one hundred portrait prints of princes, men of letters, artists and printmakers. Thus, the inclusion of printmakers or engravers, particularly those involved in the Iconography, indicates that Van Dyck considered the engraver or printmakers as exponents of an art form that required esteem equal to that accorded to princes or more importantly sculptors, architects or painters such as himself or Rubens. This essay will explore in more detail the biographical details of the engravers involved in the Iconography.
Image 1: Paulus Pontius (1603-1658). Fig. 82 in book.
Nine engravers provided engravings for the edition of the Iconography in the Worth Library. The engravers and the number of prints attributed to each are as follows:
In addition, Van Dyck has eight etched prints in the copy of the Iconography in the Worth Library. These etchings were not included in the original eighty portraits printed by Martin van den Enden before 1645.
Of the nine engravers, only Jacques Neeffs did not contribute to the original eighty plates which were printed by Martin van den Enden and sold as separate prints into an active seventeenth-century market of print collectors. However, it is not until after 1645 that the publication which we recognise as the Iconography was published by Gillis Hendricx. The original eighty plates came into the possession of Hendricx around 1645 and from that date all plates designated him as the publisher. Hendricx commissioned Neeffs between 1645-46 to provide additional engravings including the title page. Duverger and Maufort suggest that Neeffs produced ten engravings after Van Dyck although there are only three portrait examples and the title page in the Worth copy. Neeffs was the only engraver who did not work with Van Dyck on his portrait enterprise up to 1641 and was involved only from 1645, after Van Dyck’s death. All the other engravers worked in close co-operation and received instructional models in the form of chiaroscuro modelli to indicate to the engravers how Van Dyck wished light and shadow to be depicted in the completed engravings.
Image 2: Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641). Fig. 35 in book.
However, Hendricx did commission Neeffs to use an existing Van Dyck self-portrait etching (Image 2) as a basis for the cover plate. Neeffs altered the plate by extending the existing head etching onto a bust and adding a pedestal. The altered cover copper plate is now in the Louvre. The title page is the first example of an Iconography print that is observed on opening the Worth copy and it is important to note that it is a hybrid of a Van Dyck etching and the work of an engraver.
Image 3: Engraved title page of Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641).
Peter Paul Rubens
Image 4: Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). Fig. 34 in book.
Before considering the biographical details of the engravers, it is useful to briefly reflect on the influence of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), on Van Dyck and some of the engravers involved in the Iconography. Van Dyck, Lucas Vorsterman, Paulus Pontius, Pieter de Jode the Younger and Cornelis Galle worked in or were closely associated with Rubens’ studio. Rubens set up his own studio to publish prints, after his paintings, and this venture proved highly successful both financially and in bringing his work to a wider audience. The studio was instrumental in the development of engravers such as Lucas Vorsterman, Paulus Pontius and many others. In addition, Van Dyck was also exposed to printmaking in this studio. The financial and artistic advantages of printmaking influenced him and coloured his later decision to use the same approach in relation to his portraits. In addition, while working in Rubens’ workshop he associated with the engravers who would later provide a large input to the Iconography. For example, Van Dyck had a close relationship with Vorsterman and, in addition to their collaboration in printmaking, he was godfather to his daughter Antonia who was baptised in May 1631.
Image 5: Lucas Vorsterman (1595-1675). Fig. 81 in book.
It can be argued that Vorsterman (Image 5) was one of the most gifted engravers of his age. He worked in Rubens’ studio from as early as 1618 and quickly gained a reputation for his skills in transforming Rubens’ paintings into stunning engravings. An example of this ability is evident in his engraving after Rubens’, Descent from the Cross, which underlines his ability to capture the essence of the original painting (now in Antwerp Cathedral). However, Vorsterman had a serious disagreement with Rubens which ended their professional and personal relationship in 1622. Some art historians suggest violence was involved and that Vorsterman attacked or tried to murder Rubens. Dramatic though this story is, there appears to be no firm basis for the claim. Duverger and Maufort suggest that print connoisseur Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694-1774) believed that an attack had taken place and this view appears to have become accepted and repeated. While it is true that the Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia (1566-1633), governor of The Spanish Netherlands (1621-1633), did approve an escort for Rubens’ protection on 29 April 1622, she also approved a privilege, or right to print and sell engravings, to Vorsterman on 11 July 1622. It is doubtful if Isabella, a very religious woman, would have rewarded a person who had some weeks previously had attempted murder. The truth may lie in Vorsterman’s attempts to obtain printing privileges signaled to Rubens that he was about to lose his main engraver. The often-quoted Rubens letter to Peter van Veen of 30 April 1622, complaining of his engraver’s delusion of grandeur, may have been a reference to his unease at the prospect of losing Vorsterman and the engravers attempts to achieve independence to print and sell his own engravings. The repeated allusions to Vorsterman as an unstable character appear to have little basis in fact. After the break with Rubens, he left Antwerp for London in 1624, but returned in 1629/30 to commence a successful collaboration with Van Dyck.
Van Dyck’s high regard for the work of Vorsterman is evident in his etched portrait (Image 5). This is the only example of an etched portrait in Van Dyck’s own hand, of an engraver involved in the Iconography, in the Worth copy. In addition, Vorsterman also produced etchings, like Van Dyck, in addition to engravings as part of his work on the Iconography. In later life, Vorsterman experienced difficulties and in 1659, due to failing eyesight, he faced bankruptcy. His financial circumstances continued to deteriorate and towards the end of his days, he was receiving alms from his guild’s poor box. Commenting on the engraving, after a drawing by Jan Lievens (1607-1674), of an aged Vorsterman, Julius Held said, “his is a face that tells of deep suffering, suggesting a man broken in spirit more than in body”. He died in 1675 and his guild buried him due to his poverty.
Paulus Pontius (Image 1), is responsible for the greatest number of engravings in the Worth copy of the Iconography. He is noted for his very fine engraving qualities and his clear precise drawing and rendering of light and shadow to suggest colour and costume detail. Pontius was a student of Vorsterman and was admitted as a master to the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in 1626/27. He is thought to have been in Rubens’ studio in 1618 and he became his chief engraver following the departure of Vorsterman from Rubens’ studio following their dispute. He continued to work with Rubens in his studio from 1624 to 1631. When Van Dyck commenced his Iconography, he sought the assistance of Pontius as he was considered one of the leading engravers in Antwerp. He also undertook other engravings for Van Dyck other than portraits and his engraving after Van Dyck’s Virgin and Child with St Rosalie, St Peter and St Paul illustrates his ability to capture the essence of a painting in his engravings.
Pieter de Jode the Younger
Image 6: Pieter de Jode II or Pieter de Jode the Younger (1606-1674). Fig. 88 in book.
Peter de Jode the Younger came from a large family who were involved in printmaking, engraving, mapmaking and art selling from the early fifteenth century (Image 6). De Jode was a student of his father Peter de Jode the Elder (1563-1634) and it is difficult to distinguish between the work of the two. It was only after the death of his father that the son commenced signing his work as the younger or junior. Both father and son have their portraits included in the Worth copy of the Iconography. It is interesting to note that Pieter de Jode the Younger provided and engraved his own portrait while his father was engraved by Vorsterman. Both father and son engraved for several artists, in addition to Van Dyck, leaving a large body of work.
Image 7: Petrus, or Pieter de Jode I or Pieter de Jode the Elder (1570-1634). Fig. 84 in book.
Schelte à Bolswert
Despite contributing eleven engravings to the Worth copy of the Iconography Schelte à Bolswert’s portrait is not included. He studied and worked with his brother Boetius Adams Bolswert (1580-1633). He was recorded working in a workshop in Antwerp in 1611, but in 1617 he received permission, or privilege, to publish and sell prints. He was a fine engraver with a graphic oeuvre of over 345 prints.
Robert van Voerst
Image 8: Robert van Voerst (1597-1636). Fig. 83 in book.
Though Van Voerst was born in Arnhem, he is perhaps best remembered for his work in England (Image 8). He left for London in 1627 and worked for the London print publisher William Webb (active 1628-45), publishing a series of oval portraits after Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt (1567-1641). Mierevelt also appears in an engraving by Delff, or Delphinus, in the Iconography (see below). Van Voerst was successful in England and obtained commissions from King Charles I. He met Van Dyck in London and agreed to make nine prints for the Iconography, but he completed only four as he died from a plague outbreak in London in 1636.
Image 9: Willem Hondius or Willem Hondt (1597-1658). Fig. 89 in book.
Willem was the son of the famous engraver Hendrick Hondius (1573-1649). He studied under his father and worked in The Hague until about 1634 when he visited Danzig, then part of Royal Prussia. He later returned to The Hague but moved permanently to Poland around 1644. He was an engraver, painter and cartographer and undertook work for the royal court. He later joined the army and was the first to engrave Ukrainian Cossack military leaders. His work is perhaps better known today in the Ukraine and Poland.
Willem J. Delff or Delphinus
Image 10: Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt (1566-1641). Fig. 73 in book.
Willem J. Delff was trained as a painter by his father Jacob Willemsz Delff (c. 1550-1601), but took up engraving after he married the daughter of the portrait painter Michiel van Mierevelt (1567-1641). He became his father-in-law’s almost exclusive engraver from 1618. Joseph Strutt suggested that he engraved many portraits of English nobility, including King Charles I, but doubted he ever visited England. Delff engraved one portrait for the Iconography, that of his father-in-law Michiel van Mierevelt.
He was the youngest son and pupil of Philip Galle (1537-1612) a renowned engraver and publisher of old master prints. He visited Rome and lived there for several years, but returned to Antwerp where he engraved and published prints after Rubens and Van Dyck. He engraved one portrait, Artus Wolfaert, in the Iconography.
Image 11: Artus Wolffort, Artus Wolffaert or Artus Wolffaerts (1581-1641). Fig. 74 in book.
Strutt suggests he engraved in the style of Paulus Pontius and produced his best engravings after Rubens. Lauwers is responsible for the portrait engraving of Lelio Brancaccio in the Worth copy of the Iconography.
Image 12: Lelio Brancaccio, Marquess of Montesilvano (c. 1560-1637). Fig. 16 in book.
The process that created the Iconography was a collaboration of the undoubted genius of Van Dyck and the skills and talents of the engravers. In addition to referencing the portrait prints contained in this book other examples of the work of the engravers indicate their technical skills and the way they could reproduce the essence of a painting or drawing. The sympathy they displayed, in their engravings, to the wishes of the artist indicates their own artistic sensibilities and suggests they were more than skilled craftsmen, and artists who are worthy of esteem and recognition.
Philippe de Chennivières and Anatole de Montaiglon (eds.), Abecedario de P.J. Mariette : et autres notes inédites de cet amateur sur les arts et les artistes [Compilation of notes of print connoisseur Pierre-Jean Mariette], 6 vols. (Paris, 1851-60).
Erik Duverger and Danielle Maufort, ‘The cast for the production of Van Dyck’s prints’, in Carl Depauw and Ger Luijten (eds.), Anthony van Dyck as a Printmaker (Antwerp, 1999), pp. 366-90.
Ger Luijten and Saskia Sombogaart, ‘‘…with the hand’: the collecting of Van Dyck prints’, in Carl Depauw and Ger Luijten (eds.), Anthony van Dyck as a Printmaker (Antwerp, 1999), pp. 9-18.
Julius S. Held, Rubens and his Circle: studies (Princeton, 1982).
Leen Huet, De brieven van Rubens: een bloemlezing uit de correspondentie van Pieter Paul Rubens (Antwerp, 2014).
Ann-Marie S. Logan, Peter Paul Rubens: The Drawings (New Haven and London, 2005).
Joseph Strutt, A Biographical Dictionary of Engravers (London, 1786).
 Ger Luijten and Saskia Sombogaart, ‘‘…with the hand’: the collecting of Van Dyck prints’, in Carl Depauw and Ger Luijten (eds.), Anthony van Dyck as a Printmaker (Antwerp, 1999), p. 10.
 Erik Duverger and Danielle Maufort, ‘The cast for the production of Van Dyck’s prints’, in Carl Depauw and Ger Luijten (eds.), Anthony van Dyck as a Printmaker (Antwerp, 1999), pp. 366-90.
 Ann-Marie S. Logan, Peter Paul Rubens: The Drawings (New Haven and London, 2005), p. 47.
 Duverger and Maufort, ‘The cast for the production of Van Dyck’s prints’, p. 388; Philippe de Chennivières and Anatole de Montaiglon (eds.), Abecedario de P.J. Mariette : et autres notes inédites de cet amateur sur les arts et les artistes, 6 vols. (Paris, 1851-1860).
 Leen Huet, De brieven van Rubens: een bloemlezing uit de correspondentie van Pieter Paul Rubens (Antwerp, 2014), p. 30.
 Julius S. Held, Rubens and his Circle: studies (Princeton, 1982), p. 123.
 Duverger and Maufort, ‘The cast for the production of Van Dyck’s prints’, p. 367.
 Joseph Strutt, A Biographical Dictionary of Engravers (London, 1786), not paginated.
Text: Mr. Raymond Bolger, M. Phil. In Art History, ART+IRELAND, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College, Dublin.