The Worth Library’s copy of the Icones principum virorum doctorum is a 1646 edition by the Antwerp publisher Gillis Hendricx of an earlier 1630s edition published by Van Dyck and his publisher Martin van den Enden. The Van den Enden edition of what became known as Van Dyck’s Iconography contained eighty prints of prominent figures engraved from portraits by Van Dyck, while the Gillis Hendricx edition contains one hundred prints. Van Dyck died in 1641 and the eighty engraved plates of the Van den Enden edition came into the possession of Gillis Hendricx sometime before 1645. Collections of engraved portraits had been published before, but usually of works by more than one artist, and Van Dyck’s collection is considered the first ‘which aimed at reproducing the paintings of one artist alone’. Van Dyck collaborated with Van den Enden to produce the first edition of his collection of engravings, probably in 1632.
Image 1: Gaston, Duke of Orléans (1608-1660). Fig. 4 in book.
The artist’s partnership, if not ownership of the mercantile aspect of the enterprise is attested to in an inscription on the title page of the 1646 Gillis Hendricx edition ‘which states that the portraits “were done from life by the painter Anthony van Dyck and engraved at his expense”’. While the claim that all the portraits were done from life has not held up to scrutiny, Van Dyck’s ownership of the engraved plates is plausible. No complete edition by Van den Enden has been discovered to date, but his edition was composed of eighty plates divided into three distinct groupings; princes and military commanders, statesmen and philosophers, and artists and amateurs. Franz Wibiral based his contention for separate series on three factors; size of the plates, form of inscriptions, and watermarks. There is, however, no evidence of whether Van den Enden published his edition complete or in separate groups, and if so in what order. The appellation of princes is not strictly accurate as the group contains one queen and one archduchess as well as princes. It could more accurately be classed as nobles and military commanders, but princes will be retained here. This essay will identify the princes and commandeers and attempt to understand why they were included in the Iconography.
Van den Enden’s edition included sixteen engravings of ‘princes’ while the Gillis Hendricx 1646 edition, issued after Van Dyck’s death in 1641, contains nineteen princes and military commanders. Van Dyck and Van den Enden made use of the opening group of princes and military commanders as a marketing tool to promote the sale of the collection either as single prints, as three distinct groupings, or as a complete edition. Commencing the collection with princes and military commanders also had the added benefit of enhancing, by association, the status of the artists, numerically by far the largest portion of the collection. Enhancing their status beyond that of artisans had long been a preoccupation of artists. Puzzling differences exist between the original Van den Enden listing of princes and military commanders and that of the Gillis Hendricx edition. The author of the catalogue raisonné of the Iconography, Marie Mauquoy-Hendrickx, maintains that there is little logic in the selection of portraits for the various editions and remarks that ‘by an inexplicable or unexplained coincidence the French princes are published by Van den Enden and the Archduchess Isabella by Gillis Hendricx, while various English nobles are published by Joannes Meyssens (1612-1670), the three great publishers of the Iconography’. The princes and military commanders in the Worth copy of the Gillis Hendricx edition appear in the following order:
*Those followed by an asterix are not included in the Van den Enden edition.
Van Dyck’s intention
Image 2: Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-1665). Fig. 28 in book.
Van Dyck returned to his native Antwerp in 1627 after six years working and travelling in Italy. Before going to Italy he spent two years in the workshop of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and some months in London working for James I, King of England. Based mostly in Genoa, his Italian œuvre consisted mainly of portraits of the aristocracy. On his return to Antwerp, where he stayed for four years before relocating to England, his master Rubens was at the height of his fame. His output and that of his studio was prodigious, and it was against this fame and output that Van Dyck sought to make his own reputation. Rubens promoted his works by having them engraved, reproduced and circulated way beyond the milieu of his patrons, and had ‘at least since 1620, a constant staff of engravers working under his directions and in his studio, and no doubt carried on a thriving trade in the sale of prints after his own works’. It is reasonable to assume that Van Dyck would have needed little incentive to follow Rubens’ lead, and Hind speculates that he started to have his works engraved, either at his own initiative or that of a publisher shortly after his return to Antwerp. Evidence exists in a letter of 1636 that he was engaged in having his work engraved. In his letter to Francis Junius (1591-1677), the Earl of Arundel’s librarian, Van Dyck asks ‘him to suggest a proper inscription for the engraved portrait of Sir Kenelm Digby’. Van Dyck was by then involved in an enterprise consisting of painting the portraits of eminent personalities and of having them engraved by eminent engravers of his time. In keeping with that of Rubens, this was an enterprise aimed at extending and increasing awareness of his works and of generating income.
The Thirty Years War
Artist or artisan, the success of Van Dyck’s career and work depended upon the prevailing political context of his time, the conduct of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The Thirty Years War began as an attempt by the Austrian and Spanish Habsburg dynasties to limit the political and religious gains of Protestants. By the time it was brought to a close by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, it had turned, mainly through the efforts of the French Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), into a purely political struggle which saw France becoming the dominant power in Europe, and remaining so for the next two hundred years. Within such an environment princes and military commanders wielded great influence over all aspects of life, including cultural life. Although living in England, Van Dyck’s native land, the Spanish Netherlands, was greatly involved in the events of the Thirty Years War. Coming under the sovereignty of the Spanish Habsburgs it was ruled by Archduke Albert and the Infanta Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, a sister of Philip III of Spain.
Image 3: Archduchess Isabella Clara Eugenia, Infanta of Spain (1566-1633). Fig. 3 in book.
Van Dyck was born in and owed his allegiance to the Southern Netherlands, then a Spanish sovereignty. His engraving of Isabella is therefore the principal political portrait of the princes and military commanders of the Iconography. Isabella had to maintain the independence of the Spanish Netherlands from its northern neighbours, the Protestant Dutch. The Spanish Netherlands was also the base for several armies which the Spanish Kings Philip III and Philip IV deployed against the Protestant armies in support of Emperor Ferdinand II, the Austrian Habsburg ruler. It is puzzling that it was not included in the Van den Enden edition when she was ruling the province, and was only included in the Gillis Hendricx edition in 1645 long after her death in 1633. Perhaps it would have been impolitic of Van Dyck to publish it even though he received a pension from her and was ‘retained by Her Highness’ as a court painter. Isabella is shown by Van Dyck in the habit of the Poor Clare order of nuns which she adopted after the death of her husband Albert in 1621.
Image 4: Marie de’ Medici, Queen of France (1573-1642). Fig. 1 in book.
Another prominent female member of conflicted European nobility, Marie de’ Medici, is also included among Van Dyck’s princes, along with her son Gaston, Duke of Orléans and his wife Marguerite of Lorraine. Marie de’ Medici was the widow of Henry IV of France, the former Protestant Henry of Navarre who converted to Catholicism to secure the throne of France. She intrigued against her first son Louis XIII and eventually fled from France in 1630. Her journey took her to Brussels where she was hosted by Isabella, before moving on to the Netherlands. While in Brussels she, her son and his wife and a lady-in-waiting Geneviève de Urfé, sat for portraits by Van Dyck which were then engraved and included in the Iconography. The presence of a former Catholic Queen of France in the Catholic Spanish Netherlands, while on her way to the Protestant Netherlands, highlights the political complexity of Van Dyck’s time, but also highlights the opportunities available to him for embellishing his collection of engravings with prominent figures of the day.
Image 5: Marguerite of Lorraine, Duchess of Orléans (1615-1672). Fig. 5 in book.
The remaining two Catholic princes from Van Dyck’s princes and military commanders, Thomas Francis of Savoy, Prince of Carignano and Albert de Ligne, Prince of Barbançon and Arenberg, qualified under both categories, although both tenuously as minor princes. Thomas Francis served as a general in the Spanish army and became its commander-in-chief in 1634. Van Dyck painted two portraits of the Prince between April 1634 and January 1635 when he acknowledged receipt of his fee. Thomas Francis served as interim governor of the Spanish Netherlands after the death of his cousin Isabella in 1633. Albert de Ligne served in the army of Isabella but subsequently came under suspicion of dealing with the French and spent eight years in gaol before being re-instated to a military command. These therefore are the six Catholic princes or nobles of Van Dyck’s princes and military commanders, with Thomas Francis and Albert de Ligne straddling both roles. Another who also straddled both roles, Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, could be considered as an unlikely choice for the Iconography given Van Dyck’s required allegiance to Isabella and to the Catholic cause.
Image 6: Albert de Ligne (1600-1674), Prince of Barbançon and Arenberg. Fig. 12 in book.
The military commanders
Van Dyck’s Catholicism and allegiance to the Spanish Netherlands did not, however, deter him from further embellishing his collection with the inclusion of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, the most prominent Protestant opponent of the Habsburg dynasties. While the inclusion of the Protestant monarch is surprising, Gustavus Adolphus’s fame was such that he could not but be an enhancement for Van Dyck’s project. His fame was not limited to him being the foremost Protestant royal who opposed the Habsburgs, but also to his prowess as a military commander. Gustavus Adolphus, who was killed at the Battle of Lutzen in 1631, was one of the foremost military commanders of all time. Gustavus Adolphus fielded the most modern, in terms of organisation, armament and tactics, of all the European armies. He had previously conquered Finland and partook in the Thirty Years War to support the Protestant cause but also to seize territory in north Germany to protect his Baltic conquests. He was successful against the imperial armies until his death at the Battle of Lutzen. His military successes and his aura as a heroic warrior king, albeit a Protestant warrior king, earned him a place in Van Dyck’s Iconography.
Image 7: Gustav II Adolf (Gustavus Adolphus), King of Sweden (1594-1632). Fig. 2 in book.
The principal military commanders fighting for the Habsburgs were Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland, and Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, both of whom commanded the imperial army and are featured in the collection. Wallenstein was more than a military commander; he also raised and financed armies for Ferdinand II, the Austrian Habsburg Emperor. Wallenstein alienated many by his brutal persecution of the Calvinists and eventually fell out of favour with Ferdinand II. He was assassinated in 1634 by Irish troops led by one Captain Devereux, and commanded by an Irish Colonel Burke. Ferdinand’s other army commander, Johann Tserclaes, assumed command after Wallenstein’s assassination and gained many victories over the Protestant armies until he was killed at the Battle of Munich in 1632. Both commanders were of such notoriety that their inclusion among the military commanders was warranted.
Image 8: Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein, Duke of Friedland (1583-1634). Fig. 19 in book.
The third most prominent military commander in the collection was Ambrogio Spinola, an Italian who fought for the Spanish Habsburgs. Spinola fought in many campaigns in Flanders but is principally famed for his capture of the Dutch town of Breda after a long siege in 1625. While Spinola’s military reputation was secured with the capitulation of Breda, his reputation in art history does not rest on his engraving in Van Dyck’s Iconography. He is better known from his depiction in Velásquez’s renowned painting ‘The Surrender of Breda’ which was commissioned by Philip IV of Spain in 1635, five years after Spinola’s death (Image 10). Velásquez knew Spinola well and went to great efforts to record his humanity and military courtesy as he accepted the keys of Breda from his opponent Justin of Nassau. Van Dyck’s other military commanders at the siege and surrender of Breda were the Spanish generals, John, Count of Nassau-Idstein, Carlos II Coloma and Diego Felipez de Guzmán.
Image 9: Ambrogio Spinola Doria, 1st Marquis of the Balbases, Grandee of Spain (1569-1630). Fig. 9 in book.
Image 10: Velásquez, The Surrender of Breda. Oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-surrender-of-breda/0cc7577a-51d9-44fd-b4d5-4dba8d9cb13a
Photo © Museo del Prado, Madrid.
Spanish military commanders of greater or lesser fame were also included in the Iconography. Generals Coloma, Frockas and Bazán all served in the armies deployed by the Spanish Habsburgs from the Spanish Netherlands during the Thirty Years War. Drawings for their engravings have been identified and ‘the three drawings can be assumed to have been made around the same time, probably between March 1631, when Coloma became “Maestre de Campo General”, and March 1632, when Van Dyck departed for England’. The presence of these three military commanders in Flanders at the same time as Van Dyck raises the possibility that they could have sat for him. In contrast to these three, it is known that Van Dyck could not have drawn or painted Gustavus Adolphus, Wallenstein, Tserclaes or Brancaccio from life. It must be assumed, therefore, that he employed other artists’ likenesses for his engravers’ models. Van Dyck’s choice of noble subjects for Van den Enden’s collection is not therefore fully understood, but must have been influenced by political considerations or popular notoriety of his day, as were the choices made by Gillis Hendricx for his 1646 edition.
Image 11: Carlos II Coloma y de Saa, Knight of Santiago, 1st Marquis of Espinar (1566-1637). Fig. 13 in book.
Van Dyck and his publishers were engaged in a business enterprise. Van Dyck’s aims seem to have been threefold; self-promotion, the aggrandizement of artists by having them included among princes, military commanders, statesmen and philosophers, and, thirdly, money making. The last of these aims was the motivation for the publishers. The Gillis Hendricx is the earliest edition which includes the three original groupings with the princes and military commanders opening the edition. Mauquoy-Hendrickx remarks that ‘the presence of the princes at the beginning of the collections – all the more so as they are contrived – is no proof what so ever that these engravings were completed first’. Nevertheless, the inclusion of princes and commanders, would have promoted sales just as do today’s celebrities.
Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (New Haven and London, 2016).
Susan J. Barnes, Nora De Poorter, Oliver Millar and Horst Vey, Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings (New Haven and London, 2004).
Ian Chilvers, Harold Osborne and Dennis Farr, The Oxford Dictionary of Art (Oxford and New York, 1997).
Marie Mauquoy-Hendrickx, L’Iconographie d’Antoine Van Dyck: Catalogue Raisonné (Brussels , 1991).
Arthur Mayger Hind, Van Dyck; His Original Etchings and His Iconography (Boston and New York, 1915).
Franz Wibiral, L’Iconographie d’Antoine Van Dyck (Leipzig and London, 1877).
 Franz Wibiral, L’Iconographie d’Antoine Van Dyck (Leipzig and London, 1877), p. 14.
 Ibid., p. 12.
 Stijn Alsteens and Adam Eaker, Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (New Haven and London, 2016), p. 22.
 Wibiral, L’Iconographie, p. 12.
 Marie Mauquoy-Hendrickx, L’Iconographie d’Antoine Van Dyck: Catalogue Raisonné (Brussels, 1991), p. 9.
 Ian Chilvers, Harold Osborne and Dennis Farr, The Oxford Dictionary of Art (Oxford and New York, 1997), p. 177.
 Arthur Mayger Hind, Van Dyck; His Original Etchings and His Iconography (Boston and New York, 1915), p. 12.
 Ibid., p. 12.
 Ibid., p. 18.
 Ibid., pp 4-5.
 Susan J. Barnes, Nora De Poorter, Oliver Millar and Horst Vey, Van Dyck: A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings (New Haven and London, 2004), p. 349.
 Alsteens and Eaker, The Anatomy of Portraiture, pp. 149-52.
 Mauquoy-Hendrickx, L’Iconographie, p. 29.
Text: Mr. Thomas Hodson, M. Phil. in Art History, ART+IRELAND, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College, Dublin.