The Edward Worth Library’s copy of what has been known since the eighteenth century as the Iconography by Anthony van Dyck, came to the Library with the other 4,300 books, when Doctor Worth left his book collection to the newly founded Doctor Steevens’ Hospital at his death in 1733. Worth placed restricted access as a condition of his bequest, which limited the number of people who could use it. Consequently, the books are in near pristine condition. Worth’s Iconography is a very fine copy of the Gillis Hendricx edition of 1646. The objective of my research was to build a provenance for the years between 1646 and 1733. A complete provenance is one where ownership of the object may be tracked from the artist’s studio to the present day. While my research has not been entirely successful, it has provided information on the environment in which these prints were created, Worth’s taste, and the market for books in the early eighteenth century, and has compared what is known about the Worth book with other copies of the Gillis Hendricx edition and single sheets or portraits from other Hendricx editions. Most importantly, it provides clues as to when Worth may have bought his Iconography.
Image 1: Picture of the Worth Library.
The impulse to make a print or an album of prints came from various sources; the publisher, the artist, the engraver or the patron. While a painter could make a reputation without prints, it was also understood that such reproductions could help to spread his fame and reputation and be a lucrative source of revenue, hence records of artists’ request for protection from illegal copying. Van Dyck made over 1,000 paintings and about 270 prints starting around 1630. He began work on the Iconography about 1630 and the first group of images etched by him was published in 1632. Based on these works he is considered one of the most important artist print-makers in European art. The number of prints in this first edition is unclear and no known copies of it exist. The earliest surviving edition is that published by Gillis Hendricx in 1646. The images are printed on watermarked paper of a type used in Antwerp between 1640 and 1660. The Worth copy has the same watermark. The impressions in it are of a very high quality and show no signs of wear; hence it must be an early edition. Demand was high for these prints and the last edition was published in 1759. Later impressions show signs of ‘wear’ which is also seen in the copper plates, now in the Louvre. The Hendricx edition contains the original fifteen portraits by Van Dyck plus the eighty plates he bought based on Van Dyck’s work and executed by various engravers. He commissioned nine new plates to make up a total of 104 images. Editions that are considered complete have 101 images (including the title page).
Those involved in the production of the Iconography, from Van Dyck onwards, lived in a period of political turmoil. The United Provinces broke from Spain, and their status was confirmed in 1648. These developments assisted the dispersal of Van Dyck’s work. In particular, folios from volumes that were broken up found their way into collections as single sheets. At this time too the centre of print production moved from Antwerp to Amsterdam, and Paris became increasingly important as a centre of print production. As peace came to the Low Countries, England erupted in Civil War, prompting the dispersal of royalist supporters to various continental centres, including the Low Countries, by 1651. Van Dyck was well known in England, having been court artist to Charles I. Many English nobles sought his work and returned home with it at the Restoration from 1660.
Image 2: Portrait of Dr. Edward Worth.
Edward Worth was born in Dublin in 1676. He studied at Merton College, Oxford, and the University of Leiden in Holland, returning to Dublin in 1702 where he started his medical practice. His health deteriorated during the last ten years of his life which inhibited his ability to travel. During this period (1723-1733) he continued to expand his library, using a network of dealers and factors who bought books on his behalf. Presumably because of his failing health he bought his books from his home in Dublin through various book sellers and factors who sent him sales catalogues of upcoming sales in Dublin, London, Amsterdam and The Hague. His activity can be seen in the fifty-seven surviving sales catalogues, preserved in the Worth Library, covering the period from 1723 up to 1733. These were examined in the hope that they might provide leads as to where and when the Iconography was bought. No references to the Gillis Hendricx edition were found, though there were one or perhaps two references to Worth’s eighteenth-century Dutch imprint.
Not all the sales catalogues are complete and some are missing their title pages, which means that we cannot be sure of the date of sale, whose property it was, and where the sale was held. One catalogue is a single sheet list of antiques and other objects. Even with these limitations, the catalogues tell us a great deal about Worth’s collecting. The catalogues are working documents. On occasion they have uncut pages and therefore contain items in which he had no interest. When he was interested in a book he entered in pencil a question mark against it. If the book was bought he entered the price in ink in the currency in which the transaction was made. He was not always successful but was persistent in following up on a particular book. Nor are his marks consistent, sometimes he uses dashes and other marks, the meaning of which is not clear. Some catalogues are relatively detailed and others provide minimal information. Dublin booksellers provided less information, in general, than London or Dutch sellers. The catalogues are in various languages which reflect the language in which the book is printed although Latin and English are most common. Some are organized by book size and some by subject. In the most detailed catalogues, such as that of the Bibiliotheca Krysiana, which was the library of the pastor Jacobus Krys (1673-1724), the books are arranged by subject matter and by size of book. That sale was held on March 3, 1727 in The Hague by the bookseller Pieter de Hondt. The catalogue is annotated with question marks suggesting Worth’s interest, but there is no sign of the Iconography.
Image 3: Title page of Krys 1727 sale.
Worth dealt directly with his factors and we have the names of two of these. Nicholas Prevost (fl. 1722-1728), was a Dutch seller based in London with strong connections to Holland. The other is William Smith (fl. 1725-1729), who had ties to the Dublin company ‘Smith and Bruce’ and was involved in buying books for Worth from the library of the Dutch collector, Goswin Uilenbroek (1658-1740). This was a busy period in the book trade – it was a time of great financial innovation and financial collapse, which resulted in the necessity for some collectors to sell their collections. It was an international business: libraries were imported to be sold in major centres of the book trade such as London. For example, the library of Dr. Emmanuel Martin of Alicante, Spain was brought to London and sold by David Lyon at his shop in Russell Street in 1729.
Image 4: Title page of Emmanuel Martin 1729 sale.
A significant period about which, unfortunately, there is little documentation on Worth’s collecting is his time as a student and first years as a physician in Dublin (approximately between the 1690s and 1723). It was during this time that at least part of his taste in books was developed. The catalogue of his library shows that it is a secular library of a well-educated gentleman with a strong interest in medicine, science in general, classics, philosophy, works in the vernacular and some books on art and architecture. In the eighteenth century, there had developed an understanding among book collectors of a relationship between good books and good printers. This expressed itself in an interest in the book as a material object. Book sellers publicized certain printers such as the Aldine and Elzevier presses as being attractive and worth having. Edward Worth attended the University at Leiden, the birthplace of the Elzevier publishing dynasty, and he collected them, including a wonderful pocket Elzevier travelling library. He also collected Aldines about which he appeared to be very knowledgeable. He has a total of eighty-five Aldines, thirty-seven printed by Aldus himself, including not only folios but also octavos. Of this group, there are twenty-six which are not in any of the sales catalogues. Since he inherited none from his father, presumably he bought them before 1723. It is reasonable to say that by 1723 Worth had a highly-developed taste for fine books. The question is, could Worth have bought his Iconography during this period while a student and out of Ireland? We know from the frequency of early eighteenth-century editions, that this was a much sought-after item, given the frequency of editions produced. An early copy in very good condition would have cost a considerable amount of money which even a comfortably off student might not have been willing to spend.
Image 5: Icones principum virorum doctorum, pictorum chalcographorum statuariorum nec non amatorum picturae artis numero centum ab Antonio Van Dyck pictore ad vivum expressae eiusque sumptibus aeri incisae (Antwerp, 1646), inscription on back pastedown.
The date of 1725 is a possible year of entry of the book into the Worth collection. On one of the pastedowns of the book the year 1725 appears in pencil, followed by some numbers which cannot be understood (Image 5). They represent no known currency. Another curious issue is that the Worth Iconography is not bound as one would expect for a valuable book of prints. Worth’s collection attests to his appreciation of fine bindings. Furthermore, Dublin binders of the period produced work of very high quality, albeit the best work was from later in the century. The prints are bound simply in parchment with green ties, a style common in English book binding, and this may suggest that Worth bought the book in England or perhaps that it was rebound in England. Van Dyck’s work was sought after in England and there were copies of the Iconography there along with substantial number of individual sheets.
One of the best preserved complete copies with all 104 portraits is held in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. To mark its recent restoration it was highlighted in one of their museum bulletins. After a detailed description of how Gillis Hendricx assembled the plates there is a brief provenance which states that this copy was sold as part of the library of Eduard Rahir in Paris in 1937, again at Christies in London in 2003, and bought by the Christopher Mendez Gallery who sold it to Peter Berend Oudemans. In turn his heirs gave it to the museum in lieu of inheritance tax. The provenance makes no reference to when it entered Rahir’s library. Access to the sales catalogue from Rahir’s sale could provide a more complete provenance. However, when this copy appeared in the Frick exhibition, the provenance was not stated. This volume is still in its recently restored leather binding. The book starts with Marie de’ Medici as the first portrait after the self-portrait by Van Dyck modified by Jacob Neefs, and this is the same order as the Worth copy. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has two copies, both from around 1680-90. The earlier one, accession number 37.2279, was bought at Henry Hill’s in London in 1908 by a William Sargent who bequeathed it to the museum in 1937. The later copy (accession number 1970.427), has an annotation on its cover ‘Winchenden House’, a manor house in Buckinghamshire. Other than that, the provenance states that it was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Vershbow in 1970.
In the United Kingdom, there are several aristocratic collections which either have drawings or grisailles by Van Dyck from the Iconography, or in some cases engravings. The dukes of Devonshire have had a group of drawings in their collection at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire since the eighteenth century, while the dukes of Buccleuch and Queensberry have a group of grisailles at Boughton House, Northamptonshire. The taste for Van Dyck was well established in England by the eighteenth century. While the aristocratic preference may have been for original works, the taste for prints was also well developed, as we can see from donations to collections such as The Fitzwilliam Museum and the British Museum.
At the end of my research, the gap in the Worth Iconography provenance from 1690 to 1733 has not been filled. However, to have a provenance which goes back at least to 1733 and possibly 1725, for a collection of prints is notable. It may be that the sales catalogues require further examination. Even in the 1720s, this collection of portraits was a significant book and would have merited a prominent entry in a sales catalogue, but to date none has been found.
Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (New Haven, 2015).
Elizabethanne Boran (ed.), Aldines at the Edward Worth Library (Dublin, 2015).
Ann Diels, The Shadow of Rubens: Print Publishing in 17th-Century Antwerp (London, 2009).
Anthony Griffiths, Prints and Printmaking: An Introduction to the History and Techniques (London, 1980).
Huigen Leeflang, ‘Acquisitions: The Print Room’, The Rijksmuseum Bulletin, 59 (2) (2011), pp. 186-207.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, ‘Icones principum virorum doctorum, pictorum chalcographorum statuariorum nec non amatorum pictoriae artis numero centum | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’. Available at: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/icones-principum-virorum-doctorum-pictorum-chalcographorum-statuariorum-nec-non-amatorum-pictoriae-artis-numero-centum-250915.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, ‘Icones principum virorum doctorum pictorum chalcographorum statuariorum nec non amatorum pictoriae artis numero centum | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’. Available at: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/icones-principum-virorum-doctorum-pictorum-chalcographorum-statuariorum-nec-non-amatorum-pictoriae-artis-numero-centum-172127.
Julie Tyrlik, ‘An 18th-century presentation binding produced in the Dublin bindery of Ann Leathley’, Tales of Mystery and Pagination (28 July 2016). Available at: http://www.tcd.ie/library/epb/blog/2016/07/an-18th-century-presentation-binding-produced-in-the-dublin-bindery-of-ann-leathley/.
 Ann Diels, The Shadow of Rubens: Print Publishing in 17th-Century Antwerp (London, 2009), p. 133.
 Ibid., p. 67.
 Antony Griffiths, Prints and Printmaking: An Introduction to the History and Techniques (London, 1980), p. 60.
 Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (New Haven, 2015), p. 135.
 Huiden Leeflang, ‘Acquisitions: The Print Room’, The Rijksmuseum Bulletin, 59 (2) (2011), pp. 186-207.
 Alsteens and Eaker, Van Dyck, p. 142.
 Diels, Shadow of Rubens, p. 11.
 Alsteens and Eaker, Van Dyck, pp. 193-254.
 Ibid., p. 145.
 Elizabethanne Boran (ed.), Aldines at the Edward Worth Library (Dublin, 2015), p. xxiii.
 Ibid., p. xxiv.
 Boran, Aldines, p. xvi.
 Boran, Aldines, p. xii.
 David McKitterick, ‘Printers of Choice: Edward Worth and Culture in Eighteenth-Century Book Collecting’, paper given at the Worth Library Seminar (2017).
 Boran, Aldines, pp. xxvii-xxx.
 Julie Tyrlik, ‘An 18th-century presentation binding produced in the Dublin bindery of Ann Leathley’, Tales of Mystery and Pagination (28 July 2016). Available at: http://www.tcd.ie/library/epb/blog/2016/07/an-18th-century-presentation-binding-produced-in-the-dublin-bindery-of-ann-leathley/.
 Alsteens and Eaker, Van Dyck. This became apparent when looking at various sources to understand how complete the provenances of other copies of the book and individual sheets are. The sources used were the catalogue for the Van Dyck exhibition at the Frick in New York in 2016 and a number of museum bulletins detailing their holdings of the material.
 Leeflang, ‘Acquisitions’.
 Alsteens and Eaker, Van Dyck, p. 137.
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, ‘Icones principum virorum doctorum, pictorum chalcographorum statuariorum nec non amatorum pictoriae artis numero centum | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’. Available at: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/icones-principum-virorum-doctorum-pictorum-chalcographorum-statuariorum-nec-non-amatorum-pictoriae-artis-numero-centum-250915.
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, ‘Icones principum virorum doctorum pictorum chalcographorum statuariorum nec non amatorum pictoriae artis numero centum | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’. Available at: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/icones-principum-virorum-doctorum-pictorum-chalcographorum-statuariorum-nec-non-amatorum-pictoriae-artis-numero-centum-172127.
 Alsteens and Eaker, Van Dyck, pp. 146-149.
 Ibid., pp. 175, 179.
Text: Mr. Anhony Caffrey, M. Phil. in Art History, ART+IRELAND, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College, Dublin.