The Best Portraits in Engraving

Another most interesting portrait by Dürer, executed in the same year with the Erasmus, is Philip Melancthon, the St. John of the Reformation, sometimes called the teacher of Germany. Luther, while speaking of himself as rough, boisterous, stormy, and altogether warlike, says, "but Master Philippus comes along softly and gently, sowing and watering with joy according to the rich gifts which God has bestowed upon him." At the date of the print he was twenty-nine years of age, and the countenance shows the mild reformer.

Agostino Caracci, of the Bolognese family, memorable in art, added to considerable success as painter undoubted triumphs as engraver. His prints are numerous, and manyCaracci. are regarded with favor; but out of the long list not one is so sure of that longevity allotted to art as his portrait of Titian, which bears date 1587, eleven years after the death of the latter. Over it is the inscription, Titiani Vicellii Pictoris celeberrimi ac famosissimi vera effigies, to which is added beneath, Cujus nomen orbis continere non valet! Although founded on originals by Titian himself, it was probably designed by the remarkable engraver. It is very like, and yet unlike the familiar portrait of which we have a recent engraving by Mandel, from a repetition in the gallery of Berlin. Looking at it, we are reminded of the terms by which Vasari described the great painter, guidicioso, bello e stupendo. Such a head, with such visible power, justifies these words, or at least makes us believe them entirely applicable. It is bold, broad, strong, and instinct with life.

This print, like the Erasmus of Dürer, is among those selected for exhibition at the British Museum, and it deserves the honor. Though only paper with black lines, it is, by the genius of the artist, as good as a picture. In all engraving nothing is better.

Contemporary with Caracci was Hendrik Goltzius, at Harlem, excellent as painter, but, like the Italian, pre-eminent as engraver. His prints show mastery of the art,Goltzius. making something like an epoch in its history. His unwearied skill in the use of the burin appears in a tradition gathered by Longhi from Wille, that, having commenced a line, he carried it to the end without once stopping, while the long and bright threads of copper turned up were brushed aside by his flowing beard, which at the end of a day's labor so shone in the light of a candle that his companions nicknamed him "the man with the golden beard." There are prints by him which shine more than his beard. Among his masterpieces is the portrait of his instructor, Theodore Coernhert, engraver, poet, musician, and vindicator of his country, and author of the national air, "William of Orange," whose passion for liberty did not prevent him from giving to the world translations of Cicero's Offices and Seneca's Treatise on Beneficence. But that of the ENGRAVER HIMSELF, as large as life, is one of the most important in the art. Among the numerous prints by Goltzius, these two will always be conspicuous.

Jan Lutma

(Etched by Rembrandt from his own Design.)

In Holland Goltzius had eminent successors. Among these were Paul Pontius, designer and engraver, whose portrait of Rubens is of great life and beauty, and Rembrandt,Pontius. who was not less masterly in engraving than in painting, as appears sufficiently in his portraits of the Burgomaster Six, the two Coppenols, the Advocate Tolling,Rembrandt. the goldsmith Lutma, all showing singular facility and originality. Contemporary with Rembrandt was Cornelis Visscher, also designer and engraver, whose portraits wereVisscher. unsurpassed in boldness and picturesque effect. At least one authority has accorded to this artist the palm of engraving, hailing him as Corypheus of the art. Among his successful portraits is that of a Cat; but all yield to what are known as the Great Beards, being the portraits of William de Ryck, an ophthalmist at Amsterdam, and of Gellius de Bouma, the Zutphen ecclesiastic. The latter is especially famous. In harmony with the beard is the heavy face, seventy-seven years old, showing the fulness of long-continued potation, and hands like the face, original and powerful, if not beautiful.