Theses Doctoral

Landscape into History: The Early Printed Landscape Series by Jan van de Velde II (1593-1641)

Fucci, Robert

This dissertation examines the life and works of Jan van de Velde II, with a focus on the large body of original landscapes that he both designed and etched himself. Van de Velde was one of the most prolific printmakers of the seventeenth century, whose emphasis on creating and promoting his own designs not only exceeded the usual professional ambitions of most contemporary printmakers but also proved pivotal in the development of a distinctively Dutch landscape tradition. The fact that innovation in the landscape genre was propelled through the print medium inverted the usual relationship between painters and printmakers, in which painters were usually held as the primary artistic innovators.

This study provides the first focused treatment of Van de Velde’s original landscape etchings, as well as the first critical study of the artist’s prints generally. The first two chapters offer a detailed biography of Van de Velde, and incorporate a comprehensive gathering of archival documents related to his life, network, and career as a printmaker. Chapter 1 examines his early life and training, along with the remarkable letters from his father, who actually encouraged him at the outset of his career to invent his own designs. Chapter 2 details his professional life in Haarlem and Enkhuizen, and challenges the previously held notion that he more or less abandoned the pursuit of original printmaking after his marriage, as well as the notion that he developed financial problems later in life. At stake in this reassessment is the proper grounding of his enterprise of artistic self-definition, one that has repercussions for the status of printmaking generally in this era.

The remaining chapters address different aspects of Van de Velde’s original landscape etchings, particularly those produced at the beginning of his career, c. 1614-1618. Chapter 3 examines the balance of types of imagery in his landscape series, between the seemingly real and the imaginary, and between the local and the foreign. Chapter 4 is a study of the high prevalence of ruins in Van de Velde’s etchings, both as subjects in their own right, and as ones that dramatized their landscape settings and reflected a new form of visual antiquarianism at a time of peak interest in local history and antiquity. Chapter 5 looks at the significant subset of Van de Velde’s landscapes couched in the visual time-cycle tradition of Seasons and Months, and how the Neo-Latin captions found in these series offer a range of innovative commentary. It specifically examines in detail a series of Months that demonstrate how Van de Velde’s relationship with the previously unidentified humanist author Reinier Telle clearly led to a significant transformation of that tradition to reflect both local and Protestant values.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Freedberg, David A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 16, 2018