Signorum Veterum Icones  thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D , Case EO, Shelf 113, Box A

Signorum Veterum Icones

Etching
1665-1675 (Published)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This suite of 100 prints by de Bisschop comprises of classical sculptures housed in Dutch and Italian collections in the seventeenth century. Ancient statues were highly regarded as works of art, in particular by artists who admired their representation of anatomy, drapery and poses. This suite includes some of the most important sculptures, from various view points, from which the artist could study.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleVenus de' Medici (generic title)
Materials and Techniques
Etching
Brief Description
Pieter Donker (after), Venus de' Medici, from a suite of 100 etchings entitled Signorum Veterum Icones, Dutch, 1669 .
Physical Description
Plate 50 from de Bisschop's suite entitled Signorum Veterum Icones showing the Venus de' Medici shown in reverse composition to the original statue.
Dimensions
  • Height: 24.7 cmcm
  • Width: 9.5 cmcm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Lettered in the left of the plate: “Don. d.”
  • Lettered in the right of the plate: “JE. f.”
  • Numbered in the upper right of the plate: “50”
Object history
Jan de Bisschop (1628-1671), also known as Johannes Episcopius, was a Dutch painter and printmaker. He first studied to be become a lawyer but then abandoned the profession in order to study art with Bartholomeus Breenbergh (1598 c.-1657 c.), a Dutch painter specialising in Italianate landscapes. In 1656 de Bisschop took part in the foundation of the Confrerie Pictura, a club of artists, in The Hague.

He was particularly interested in the teaching of art and this resulted in his making two series of prints based on classical statues and on sixteenth and seventeenth century artists for students to draw from. The first of these suites is the Signorum Veterum Icones which was published by Nicolaes Visscher in two parts in 1668 and 1669 while the Paradigmata Graphices variorum artificum in 1671. The two volumes of the Icones were subsequently published in one single edition, together with the Paradigmata. The Icones comprises of a suite of 100 plates of reproductive prints of sculptures, including a large number of well known statues of the Greek and Roman period. The second suite, the Paradigmata, consists of 57 reproductive plates of paintings and sculptures by Italian and Dutch sixteenth and seventeenth century artists.

Along with the Apollo del Belvedere, the Dancing Faun and the Hercules Farnese this Venus was a well known ancient statue. It was the first work every traveller looked for once in the Uffizi since it arrived there in 1677. Its importance is proved by its location in the Tribuna, where only the most precious works were kept there and only few and distinguish people were allowed to enter.

The print shows the statue in reverse and in a three quarters view. The statue is now in the Uffizi gallery. When Pieter Donker made the drawing after which de Bisschop's print was produced the statue was displayed in the Villa Medici Rome, where it remained until 1677. The statue represents the goddess emerging from the sea, surprised to be watched. The prototype goes back to the Aphrodite of Cnidos, a sculpture made by one of Praxiteles' followers. In the Signorum Veterum Icones the Venus de' Medici is represented from four different view points (see plates 47-50).

Summary
This suite of 100 prints by de Bisschop comprises of classical sculptures housed in Dutch and Italian collections in the seventeenth century. Ancient statues were highly regarded as works of art, in particular by artists who admired their representation of anatomy, drapery and poses. This suite includes some of the most important sculptures, from various view points, from which the artist could study.
Bibliographic References
  • Le Blanc, Paris 1854-1888, vol. 1, 348.
  • Naglar, Munchen 1835, vol. 1, 512.
  • Hollstein, Amsterdam, 1949, vol. 2, 42-44.
Collection
Accession Number
15124

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record createdJune 30, 2009
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