New Project: The De Passe dynasty

Crispijn de Passe I (1564-1637) hailed from the town of Arnemuiden in the Dutch province of Zeeland, but moved to Antwerp at a young age to start a career as an engraver. Possibly trained in the workshop of the Wierix brothers he enrolled in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1584-85 as an independent master. His early prints were published by Eduard van Hoeswinckel, Gerard de Jode, Hans van Luyck, and Philips Galle, mostly after designs by Maarten de Vos. The fall of Antwerp to Spain in 1585, reinstating Catholic rule, forced the Protestant Crispijn de Passe to emigrate to Aachen in 1588. It was here that he set up his own publishing firm and published the first prints which he designed and engraved himself. Urged again by religious dissension De Passe moved to Cologne in the next year, where he established a flourishing print firm. In 1611 De Passe took permanent residence in Utrecht, the only major city in the Dutch Republic that did not yet have a print publishing business. In all cities Crispijn de Passe collaborated with designers and Neo-Latin poets, as well as having personal connections with important academics, artists, clergymen and dignitaries. From 1604 he worked with the Arnhem book printer Jan Janszoon for the production of his print books.

Four of the five De Passe siblings would become engravers. Crispijn de Passe II (1594-1670) signed his first print in Cologne in 1611. Simon (c. 1595-1647) did so in Utrecht in 1612, and both Willem’s (c. 1597/98-1636/37) and the especially gifted Magdalena’s (1600-1638) first signatures appeared on prints in 1614. From that moment on they officially worked as engravers in the De Passe studio, in a number of instances on the same series after their father’s design.

Compiler: Marjolein Leesberg
Editor: Ilja Veldman

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