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Desiderius Erasmus, from the Iconography

circa 1630-1644
17th century
25.4 cm x 16.7 cm (10 in. x 6 9/16 in.)

Anthony van Dyck (Antwerp, 1599 - 1641, London) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, Flemish
Medium and Support: Etching
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Jonathan Bober in memory of Robert Herman, 1997
Accession Number: 1997.131

There was no shortage of images of Erasmus during the 1500s and 1600s. Humanist and theologian, he believed in reforming the Church from within rather than rejecting its authorities. The model for Van Dyck’s print is a painting by Hans Holbein. The lines are stiff and the face is heavy and overworked, suggesting that it was an early attempt by Van Dyck. The varnish, a very temperamental material made of a waxy substance impervious to acid, did not adhere properly to the plate and allowed acid to reach the copper. The subsequent pockmarks and other imperfections, called foul-biting, are the most striking features of the print and dozens of images were pulled.

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