Wenceslas Hollar (1607-1677)

Jupiter and The Monkey

Wenceslas Hollar (1607-1677) was a Bohemian engraver and water-colourist, born in Prague.

Important Bohemian etcher known as “Iconographer to the King”, under the patronage of the Duke of Arundel, achieved fame in his lifetime for his splendid etchings of landscapes, costumes and city views. of his own designs & those of his contemporaries in the 17th century.

Went to Frankfurt in 1627. Studied under the engraver and publisher Matthus Merian. Later moved to Strasbourg, then to Cologne in 1633. Attracted the attention of the collector Thomas, earl of Arundel, with whom he was associated for most of his life. Settled in England in 1637, moving to Antwerp in about 1644, and returning to London in 1652. Illustrated a number of books and produced the celebrated “Views of London,” after the Great Fire of 1666. Some 3,000 plates are credited to him. Appointed royal scenographer to Charles II. Died in extreme poverty.  

His neat & precise etching style has given him representation in most of the important museums of the world & admired by collectors up to the present day.

The “Jupiter & The Monkey” fable, sometimes refered to as “The Monkey God”, shows Jupiter issuing a proclamation to all the beasts, and offers a prize to the one who, in his judgment, produces the most beautiful offspring.  Among the rest came the Monkey, carrying a baby monkey in her arms, a hairless, flat-nosed little fright.  When they saw it, the gods all burst into peal on peal of laughter; but the Monkey hugged her little one to her, and said, Jupiter may give the prize to whomsoever he likes:  but I shall always think my baby the most beautiful of them all.

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