Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Rubens: Bear Hunting

Willem Pieter LEEUW after Peter Paul Rubens

Bear Hunting

33½ x 26 inches

A magnificent copper plate engraving by Willem Pieter Leeuw after the painting by Peter Rubens, published in Antwerp circa 1640

Leeuw was one of the many accomplished engravers working in Antwerp during the first half of the seventeenth century and one of the most successful in forming a mutually beneficial working relationship with the great Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens. Despite his acclaim as an artist Rubens was quick to recognise the importance of the print market in disseminating his images to a wider audience and, even more importantly, furthering his own commercial success. He produced very few prints himself but worked closely with series of highly skilled engravers and, upon his return to Antwerp in 1608, eventually commissioning over 100 prints after his own designs. Throughout the process Rubens took a very active and creative role working in close collaboration with engravers such as W. P. Leeuw. The resulting images are outstanding in their quality and astonishing in their ability to recapture the density and dynamism of Ruben’s original work. Rubens is well known for his ability to distinguish between the requirements of an oil painting and an engraved plate and as such he was constantly adapting his work so that it could make the successful transition from canvas to copperplate. He allowed for alterations in scale and also acknowledged the need to create shading and tone without the use of colour. Leeuw worked with Rubens from the 1630’s onwards and fast became one of his most talented and cherished engravers. He demonstrated exceptional talent at using the burin to create intimate detail and strong contrast upon one plate and it was these skills that singled him out as a genius in the eyes of Rubens. Indeed, it was engravers like Leeuw, Bolswert and Soutman, who helped to ensure that Rubens will be remembered as one of the most important figures in the history of seventeenth century printmaking


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