Book Series The Print Collection of the Royal Library of Belgium, vol. 2

The Shadow of Rubens: Print Publishing in 17th-century Antwerp

Ann Diels

  • Pages: 271 p.
  • Size:225 x 305 mm
  • Illustrations:279 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2009

  • ISBN: 978-1-905375-50-9
  • Hardback
  • Available


"Another important feature of her study is the consistent, almost exclusive use of illustrations drawn from the print collection of the Royal Library of Belgium. In many cases, her illustrations present unfamiliar material and, taken together, they provide an overview of the holdings of this important, though under-utilized repository of prints." (Victoria Sancho Lobis, in: Historians of Netherlandish Art,, October 2012)


This book presents both an overview of the print production in the 17th century Southern Low Countries and a focused approach to the work of three collaborators of Rubens. Apart from their work as painters, these artists quickly penetrated the world of prints and each dominated a specific market segment. Abraham Van Diepenbeeck was a prolific designer of individual prints and print series. Erasmus Quelinus II often drew models for book-illustrations. Cornelis Schut ran an important workshop which produced many beautiful etchings. The book explores how these artists positioned themselves in an artistic field, operating in a highly competitive field that presented both threats and new opportunities. Their oeuvre is firmly set in a European context, spanning local, regional and international markets. An analysis is made of the relation between prints as reproductions of paintings and prints as autonomous inventions. The book argues that the importance of prints as autonomous creations has been underestimated for the 17th century. The book studies the connections between the three artists and some forty professional engravers who were active in 17th-century Antwerp. Many biographical data on these engravers are presented, and more than 100 prints are published for the first time.

Ann Diels (1969) works at the Print Room of the Royal Library of Belgium and teaches the History of European Printmaking at the Free University of Brussels. She has published the New Hollstein volumes on the Collaert Family (2005-2006) and 'The Family Collaert (ca. 1555-1630) en de prentkunst in Antwerpen' (2009).