Artists' Portraits in Print: Print Room Display

Anita Sganzerla, Print and Drawings Study Room Assistant

Over the past few months I have been in charge of setting up a new display in The Courtauld Prints and Drawings Room.

After some thinking, I decided to draw upon The Courtauld’s rich collection of portraits in various print media, and to look at the theme of artists’ portraits.

From this vast subject I selected examples from two series: the Pictorum aliquot celebrium, præcipué Germaniæ Inferioris, effiges (Effigies of some famous painters, especially of Lower Germany; The Hauge, 1610) and the Museum Florentinum exhibens insigniora vetustatis monumenta quae Florentiae sunt (Florentine Museum exhibiting noteworthy monuments of antiquity that are in Florence; Florence, 1731-1766).

The Effigies series was published in The Hague in 1610.  These prints are not all based on existing designs, and some of the artists’ likenesses were commissioned specifically for this series.

In contrast, the Museum Florentinum prints, published in Florence between 1731 and 1766, are reproductions of artists’ self-portraits from the collection of the Medici Grand Dukes in Florence (now part of the holdings of the Uffizi Gallery).

The Print Room display

The Print Room display

I have written two wall panels to provide brief introductions to each series as well as a few observations on selected prints. As my field of research is prints and print culture, I hope I have given some insight into the works as printed objects.

One of my favourite works in the display is the Museum Florentinum print after a Self-portrait by the painter Luca Cambiaso (1527-1585).

Cambiaso represented himself in the act of painting his father and teacher, the artist Giovanni.

Luca Cambiaso, Self-Portrait

Luca Cambiaso, Self-Portrait

We could say that here Luca has created a double self-portrait as the composition shows his face at it looks in the present and also as it will be in old age.

I think that the subtle tonal range of each figure’s facial features are skillfully captured in this print.

Now that the display is up I look forward to people exploring and enjoying it – remember that prints have a lot to say if you take the time to observe them closely.

Find out more about Hendrick Hondius the Elder’s Pictorum aliquot celebrium, præcipué Germaniæ Inferioris, effiges (The Hague, 1610), which contains 68 portrait prints of Netherlandish artists.


 If you would like to see Anita’s print display, pay a visit to the Prints and Drawings Room