Dutch & Flemish

Hollstein's Dutch & Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts ca. 1450 - 1700

When the first volume of the reference work on Dutch and Flemish print­making that has become known as 'Hollstein' was published in 1949 no one could expect that it should take more than 60 years to reach the end with the publication of index volumes.

It was the initiative of Friedrich Wilhelm Hollstein (1888-1957), a Berlin print dealer and auctioneer who was forced by circumstances to leave Germany in 1937 and moved to Amsterdam. He must have been an optimistic man. He calculated that he would need 25 volumes to catalogue the entire production of prints from 1450 to 1700. Fourteen volumes had seen the light of day by the time he died in 1957, and it was due to the intervention of the Rijksprentenkabinet, and of Karel G. Boon in particular, and the book publishers Menno Hertzberger, A.L. van Gendt, Koninklijke Van Poll, and Sound & Vision Publishers, who believed in the project and were prepared to invest in it, that the series was continued.

Slowly the standard of the print descriptions improved, and the series was completed thanks to the dedication and involvement of the late Mrs Dieuwke de Hoop Scheffer and her successors. It took another 53 years to finish the series, which now has reached the end in 72 volumes.

Scholarly discussion of the significance of key designers has led to the publication of the well-received volumes on Maarten de Vos and Hans and Paul Vredeman de Vries. Among the contributions on peintre-graveurs, the publications on Antoni Waterloo and Moyses van Wtenbrouck included detail illustrations on a scale unprecedented for Hollstein, which has contributed significantly to the ease in establishing a particular state. The long-awaited catalogue raisonné of Reinier Nooms, called Zeeman, who was not included under N in the Hollstein series has been published when we reached the Z in the alphabet. One of the major projects in this series was the publication of the volumes on the Wierix family.

Friedrich Hollstein realised from the very outset that it would be necessary to round off the series with an index, and he announced that there would be one. We too, who have been editing and publishing the series for quite some time now, have often been told how useful it would be to have an index to Hollstein. So we did and now the series has been completed with an index volume (volume LXXII).

What remains is a feeling of gratitude to pioneers like Adam von Bartsch, Max Lehrs, Arthur M. Hind, Friedrich Hollstein and many others, cataloguers pur sang, who have shown that in order to research prints and interpret them it is essential to inventory what has come down to us. The ways of doing so have evolved since Bartsch's day, thanks to the invention of photography and, later, the introduction of the computer. In that context, Hollstein's initiative and what has become of it will prove to have been an essential contribution to the study of the history of print­making.

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