Amoenissimæ aliquot locorum ... effigies. Plate 16. DrachenfelßŸ., result 1 of 1
Wenceslaus (or Wenzel) Hollar (1607-77) was an Anglo-Czech artist, and one of the greatest and most prolific printmakers of the 17th century. His art reveals his immensely wide subject range, and reflects the priorities of his time: religious prints, mythology, satire, landscapes, geography and maps, portraits, women, costumes, sports, natural history (including caterpillars, moths and snails), architecture, heraldry, numismatics, ornaments, title-pages and initials.
The scene depicted in this etching of a famous Rhineland landmark (Dragon's rock, in translation), is best described by Lord Byron, in the following excerpt from 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage'
The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o'er the wide and winding Rhine.
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine,
And hills all rich with blossomed trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine,
And scattered cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strewed a scene, which I should see
With double joy wert thou with me!
DrachenfelßŸ is Plate 10 of a collection of 24 prints, published by Abraham Hogenberg in 1635 at Cologne. Amoenissimae aliquot locorum is the earliest of Hollar's recorded publications, and these etchings are obviously based on drawings made on the spot, during his earlier years as an artist. Its Latin title translates as 'Delightful likenesses of some places lying in various countries'. This series records Hollar's long and winding journey from his native Prague all the way to the Netherlands between 1627 and 1634. No scene here appears to depict autumn or winter, and this may reflect the difficulty of travelling during the colder months. Hollar was also careful to avoid references to the destruction wrought by the ongoing Thirty Years' War (1618-48). For this commercial enterprise, he focused instead on prosperous towns and views of quiet landscapes along the rivers on which he travelled. This print fits happily into the latter character but has a more overtly romantic character than most other works in the series.
Remarkably, Te Papa owns the complete collection, thanks to the former Danish prime minister turned refugee, Bishop Ditlev Monrad, who donated it to the Colonial Museum in 1869.
The year after the publication of Amoenissimae aliquot locorum, Hollar would meet the diplomat and collector Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel, who became his employer for the next ten years. This special connection took Hollar to England, where he would spend most of the rest of his life.
Richard Pennington, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etched Work of Wenceslaus Hollar 1607-1677 (Cambridge, 1982), p.122 (no. 710).
Dr Mark Stocker Curator, Historical International Art May 2017
Now viewing Amoenissimæ aliquot locorum ... effigies. Plate 16. Drachenfelß.