Portrait of Bartholomeus Spranger

Jan Muller Netherlandish
After Hans von Aachen German

Not on view

Jan Muller was one of the most sought-after Mannerist printmakers at the end of the sixteenth century. The son of an Amsterdam printer, printmaker, and publisher, he developed a style modeled on that of Hendrick Goltzius, the premier draftsman and printmaker in the northern Netherlands. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, he began to engrave portraits. Most were of important political figures, reproducing painted portraits by various artists, but a few were of artists and musicians. Among the latter is the Portrait of Bartholomeus Spranger, one of the most important northern Mannerist artists and the court painter to the Emperor Rudolf II of Prague. Muller engraved a dozen prints after Spranger’s designs, but the model for the present work was a lost portrait by Hans van Aachen, a German painter who also worked for Rudolf. Muller added an elaborate architectural frame decorated with symbolic references to Spranger’s virtues, including the garlanded helmet above the oval and the putto at the left with the shield and lance referring to Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and patron of the arts, and the trumpets held by the putto on the right announcing the artist’s fame. Below, supporting the pedestal are images of two urns with burning candles, again referring to the artist’s wisdom.

Portrait of Bartholomeus Spranger, Jan Muller (Netherlandish, Amsterdam 1571–1628 Amsterdam), Engraving; New Holl.'s fourth state of seven

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