Wenceslaus Hollar

 

Artist Biography:

Vaclav Hollar was a Bohemian etcher, known in England as Wenceslaus or Wenceslas and in Germany as Wenzel Hollar. He was born in Prague, and died in London, being buried at St Margaret's Church, Westminster. After his family was ruined by the Sack of Prague in the Thirty Years' War, the young Hollar, who had been destined for the law, determined to become an artist. The earliest of his works that have come down to us are dated 1625 and 1626. In 1627 he moved to the region around Stuttgart; before moving to Straßburg, and then, in 1633, to Cologne. It was in 1636 that he attracted the notice of the famous nobleman and art collector Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel, then on an embassy to the imperial court. Employed as a draftsman he travelled with Arundel to Vienna and Prague. In 1637 he returned with him to England where he remained in the Earl's household for many years. He continued to produce works prolifically throughout the English Civil War. During the period of the unrest of the Civil Wars he worked in Antwerp, where he produced many of his most renowned works. After the Great Fire of London he produced some of his famous "Views of London"; which were a success. Almost complete collections of Hollar's work are kept in the British Museum, the print room at Windsor Castle and the National Gallery in Prague. He lived eight years, still working for the booksellers, and continuing to produce well-regarded works until his death. He died in extreme poverty, his last recorded words being a request to the bailiffs that they would not carry away the bed on which he was dying.

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