If Wenceslaus Hollar were alive today, he might well be a freelance photographer. His eye was his camera lens, his copperplates the film. No other artist recorded so many aspects of seventeenth-century English life as he did.
Over some forty years and in more than 2700 etchings, he covered a vast array of subjects for his patrons, for the publishers, and in collaboration with other artists: architectural and topographical views, maps, copies of paintings and drawings, and depictions of people, fashions, and events. His harmonious landscapes and precise architectural renderings, his dazzling studies of women's costume, and his vivid depictions of crowds of people are remarkable for their virtuosity and detail.
Impressions of Wenceslaus Hollar is about Hollar's impressions of he world in which he lived, how he saw that world, what captured his attention, and his imagination, and what he was commissioned to see and record. Nearly 150 of the 1400 Hollar etchings in the Folger Library collection have been included in this exhibition in order to represent aspects of Hollar's career, from his travels in Germany in the 1630s, through his years in England, in Antwerp, and in England again, until his death in 1677.
Impressions of Wenceslaus Hollar also reflects our impressions, our responses to the artist who was nearsighted and used "a glasse to helpe his sight," yet etched such delicate lines that often we need a magnifying glass to see them; the talented copyist, who could reproduce another artist's work and record a landscape or a building, but could not quite master the contours of a human face; the man who was captivated by lace and fur, by texture and lines, and yet eschewed baroque exaggeration in favor of simplicity and clarity.