Wenceslaus Von Prachna Hollar
Four women in costume, from the series "Aula Veneris: sive, Varietas foeminini sexus (The Court of Women: or, the Variety of the Most Feminine Sex)", 1643-49
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Etchings in black on wove paper, each trimmed to plate edge and tipped
3.50 x 2.25 in
Presented here as a group are four original etchings of women in European national dress from the master printmaker Wenceslaus Hollar's series "Aula Veneris: sive, Varietas foeminini sexus (The Court of Women: or, the Variety of the Most Feminine Sex)". Prints of men and women in costume were a popular genre for collectors of the seventeenth century. Hollar would have seen these simple, small-scale prints as an opportunity to take advantage of that market, and he produced several groups of costume prints in the 1630s and 1640s. He began self-publishing "Aula Veneris" in 1643 after his primary patron in London, Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel, left for Austria preceding the English Civil War. The series began under the title Theatrum Mulierum (The Theater of Women) before being retitled after the artist emigrated to Antwerp. Though the plates would suggest a desire to create an encyclopedic grouping of women's costume, he appeared to have planned for the series to be open-ended: the prints were likely sold individually rather than in bound books or portfolios, as no collection of them today has the same combination. Nonetheless, this allowed the series the flexibility to be amended with new additions in later decades, adding to its international breadth. Girl from Zurich in wedding dress (Virgo nuptialis Tiguriensis), upper left A Women of Prague (Mulier Pragensis), upper right Unmarried woman from Zurich (Virgo Tiguriensis), lower left Strasbourg bride (Virgo nuptialis Argentinensis), lower right Etchings in black on wove paper, each trimmed to plate edge and tipped 3.5 x 2.25 inches, each sheet 21.5 x 21.5 inches, frame each signed in the plate, lower left Framed to conservation standards using archival materials including 100 percent rag matting and mounting. Housed in a gold finish wood moulding. Prints in good and stable condition; some wrinkling in each corner from tipping; frame in overall good condition with some losses to gold finish. Source: Hughes, Heather. "Luxury and Morality: Fashioning Englishness in Seventeenth-Century Costume Prints," in 'Clothing As Culture: Delineating National Character In Costume Prints,' c. 1600-1650. PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 2017.