[Impressions of 8 titlepage plates, 6 after designs by Rubens]
Antwerp: , 1605–1644
8 half sheets, impressions from engraved titlepage plates on thin unwatermarked paper. Frayed in the margins.
1. [Theodor Galle, artist unknown], engraved titlepage border for Seneca, Opera (folio, 1605, 1615, 1632, 1652). Image 302 x 186mm; platemark 304 x 188mm; sheet 444 x 345mm, central cut-out 130 x 96mm.
Judson and van de Velde, Appendix II, ‘List of books with title-pages or book illustrations after Rubens’s designs’ no. 5 (1615 edition).
This border was first used for the Lipsius’ edition of Seneca printed by the Plantin Press in 1605 with the title lettering engraved on the plate. The central panel was then cut out and the border re-used for later editions, the titles being engraved on separate plates inserted into the border. The plates in the 1605 edition were thought to be unsatisfactory and Rubens (who was still in Italy when the first edition was produced) was asked to make new designs, including a portrait of Seneca. This new portrait of the philosopher with a full head of hair and beard was so different from the Seneca in the oval at the bottom left of the plate that it was replaced with a head resembling Rubens’ design. Other re-working shows that the present impression is from a state later than that used for the 1632 edition. (Judson and van de Velde pp. 154 and 456; the titlepages in the 1605 and 1615 editions are illustrated in Judson and van de Velde’s plates 102 and 103.)
2. [Cornelis Galle? after Rubens], engraved titlepage for Torniello, Augustino, Annales sacri (folio, 1620). Image 327 x 214mm; platemark 330 x 217mm; sheet 445 x 358mm.
Judson and van de Velde, Appendix II, no. 12.
3. [Cornelis Galle? after Rubens], engraved titlepage for Coriolano, Francisco Longo a, Summa conciliorum omnium (folio, 1623). Image 310 x 203mm; platemark 314 x 206mm; sheet 447 x 350mm. Light foxing to margins.
Judson and van de Velde, Appendix II, no. 14.
4. Theodor Galle [after Rubens], engraved titlepage for Breviarium Romanum (folio, 1628). Image 343 x 219mm; platemark 347 x 223mm; sheet 447 x 350mm, Signed ‘Theodorus Gallus sculpsit’.
One of the best documented titlepages, for which Balthasar Moretus’ sketched layout of the titlepage and verbal instructions for its iconography survive, as well as Rubens’ pen and wash drawing and a proof of the engraving before letters (Judson and van de Velde plates 75, 76 and 17–19); not listed in Appendix II).
5. [Cornelis Galle? after Rubens]. Engraved titlepage for Rosweyde, Heribert, Vitae patrum(folio, 1628). Image 311 x 196mm; platemark 318 x 199mm; sheet 447 x 345mm. Light foxing to margins.
Judson and van de Velde, Appendix II, no. 18.
6. Cornelis Galle [after Rubens]. Engraved titlepage for Cordier, Balthasar. Catena sexaginta (folio, 1628). Image 312 x 205mm; platemark 318 x 208mm; sheet 447 x 350mm. Signed ‘Cornelius Gallus sculpsit’.
Judson and van de Velde, Appendix II, no. 19.
7. Cornelis Galle [after Rubens?] Engraved titlepage for Hugo, Herman, De militia equestri (1628). Image 305 x 184mm; platemark 309 x 188mm; sheet 447 x 345mm. Signed ‘Corn Gallus sculpsit’. Paper discoloured.
Not in Judson and van de Velde but sometimes attributed to Rubens.
8. Unsigned engraved titlepage for Alexander VII, Pope, Philomathi musae juveniles (8vo, 1654). Image 149 x 92mm; platemark 152 x 96mm; paper 448 x 347mm. Light foxing to margins.
A good representative collection of Rubens titlepages. Balthasar I Moretus (1610–1641) regularly employed Rubens to design titlepages for the Plantin Press, to be engraved by one or other of the Galle brothers. The sketches were done by Rubens at home on Sundays and feast days, when he could not paint in his studio. This way he could work for the very low rates paid to draughtsmen; engravers were paid much more because their work was so much more time-consuming. (Leon Voet, The Golden Compasses (1972) ii, p. 223.)
The copper plates survive today in the Plantin-Moretus museum and it is not clear when these impressions were pulled. The engravers took impressions for their own refererence, but these are more likely to be later impressions. The paper is perhaps early 18th century. New impressions were made at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century when the Press had become a museum, but as old paper from the stock of the Press was used, it is difficult to distinguish them from earlier impressions. (I am grateful to Dirk Imhof of the Plantin-Moretus Museum for this information.)
Literature: J. Richard Judson and Carl van de Velde, Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard. Part XXI Book Illustrations and Title-pages (1978).