The dedicated research of a team of scholars, these volumes cover four generations of the Muller family of printmakers and publishers, who worked in Amsterdam, from c.1535 through the seventeenth century. The activities of this dynasty were so broad that they span much of the history of Renaissance and Baroque printmaking in the Netherlands, from the expansive woodcuts after Cornelis Anthonisz., to extensive engraved cycles after Maerten van Heemskerck, devotional and allegorical prints, the mannerist extravaganzas of Jan Muller, and finally portraits, maps, ornament prints, and illustrated books on many subjects.
The first volume contains the catalogues of the founder of the dynasty and one of Amsterdam’s first publishers, Jan Ewoutsz. Muller, as well as that of his son, the engraver and publisher Harmen Jansz. Muller, who made prints after Heemskerck, Stradanus and other artists for the Hieronymus Cock and other Antwerp printing houses. This volume contains many gems of early to mid-sixteenth century printmaking of the genres mentioned above. These include such rarities as Harmen Muller’s large engraving of Fortuna poised between a city in prosperity and one under attack (vol. 1, cat. 82; with only one known impression, in Dresden) and a monumental woodcut Lottery Print published by the same artist, with an abstract composition of money bags and gold vessels below an architectural fantasy (cat. 136).
Volume 2 of the series focuses on the famous mannerist engraver, Jan Muller, and it is a significant product of Jan Piet Filedt Kok’s longstanding research on the group of graphic artists around Hendrick Goltzius. Questions of attribution among that circle are explored, particularly in relation to prints from the c.1588-89 that were formerly given to Jakob Matham. Muller’s work for the Prague artists Bartholomaus Spranger and Hans von Aachen is also discussed: Muller even served as an art agent (mistranslated on p. 11 as ‘confidant’) to Rudolf II, attempting to acquire for the emperor Lucas van Leiden’sLast Judgement triptych. Additional information which underscores the importance of these contacts for Muller lies in his drawing of the Holy Family by Candlelight (p. 19, fig. 6; Vienna, Albertina). While this has been described by the author as influenced by Ligozzi and other Italian draftsmen, it is in fact based on Hans von Aachen’s various compositions of this subject, the most important being his altarpiece for the Church of the Gesù in Rome. This volume also presents the results of Filedt Kok’s study of Muller’s proof states, of which around 170 have been identified. In addition, an index presents radiographs of watermarks, which the author has studied to determine the provenances of extant impressions and identify those belonging to Muller’s bequest to his descendents.
The third volume on the Muller dynasty deals exclusively with their production of illustrated books. In this case, the early members of the family, Jan Ewoutsz. and Harmen Jansz., and the brother-in-law and nephew of Jan Muller, Cornelis Dircksz. Cool and Cornelis Cornelisz. Cool, were the key participants in this sphere of activity. While the book illustrations could not be reproduced in their entirety, the author, Harriet Stroomberg, has meticulously catalogued both the volumes and their respective plates by two sets of numbers: necessary because of the reuse of blocks for more than one book. Once again, wonderful and unusual material surfaces in this catalogue, from a book of geomancy, physiognomy and chiromancy (Dat grote planeten boeck, cat. 71); to treatises on herbs, garden design and distilleries (cat. 80, 81, 98); to Willem van Schouten’s account of his journey to the West Indies, the Tierra del Fuego, and New Guinea (cat. 112); and finally to an edition of Thijl Ulen Spieghel, with woodcuts of his adventures (cat. 91).
St. Lawrence University