By Joanna Woodall and Stephanie Porras
Picturing the Netherlandish Canon provides an online, critical edition of Pictorum aliquot celebrium praecipuae Germaniae inferioris effigies (Effigies of some celebrated painters, chiefly of Lower Germany) published by Hendrick Hondius the Elder (1573-1650) in The Hague in 1610.
Integral to this project is a website of the same name which was originally launched in April 2012. This allows its users to page through a virtual copy of Hondius’s large series of engraved and etched portraits of artists with accompanying Latin verses. Visitors to the website, which is accessible via links throughout this online book, can also consult individual images from the series, together with details of their size and technique. There are transcriptions of the accompanying Neo-Latin inscriptions and their first complete, annotated English translation. In addition to a full bibliography on Hondius’s series, for each image links are provided to the biographies of individual artists in Karel van Mander’s Het Schilder-boeck of 1604 and the scholarly biographies in Oxford Art Online.
The idea for Picturing the Netherlandish Canon arose during Professor Joanna Woodall‘s research and teaching on the subject of Netherlandish portraiture. The project’s original aim was to make the entire series of prints in Hendrik Hondius’s 1610 edition of the Pictorum aliquot celebrium praecipuae Germaniae inferioris effigies available online with high-quality images, together with the first English translation of all the Latin texts. The format of the Effigies, a series of artists’ portraits accompanied by Latin poems, is a distinctively Netherlandish form of ‘art literature’, forming an alternative to the biographies and academic art theory that were emerging in Italy in the second half of the sixteenth century. In collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Porras, the ambitions of the project expanded to encompass an online exhibition, as well as accompanying essays on the Effigies, in order to facilitate a closer and more precise analysis of both individual prints and the series as a whole.