Franciscus Deleboe Sylvius, Medicinae practicae in Academia Lugduno-Batava Professor. MDCLIX Aet. XLV. C. van Dalen Junior delineavit et sculpsit
Amsterdam: , 1659
Engraved portrait, image 302 x 228mm; plate mark 318 x 238mm; leaf 408 x 288mm; slightly creased but a fine impression with good margins.
Bibliography: Wellcome 2865.1; Driver p. 158 no. 1; Yale Digital Library Portrait Engravings Collection sylvius j 002.dc; L’art de l’estampe Hollandaise (on-line) 59.
A fine portrait of Franciscus Deleboe Sylvius (1614–1672) by ‘an artist of considerable stature, who engraved some of the most powerful portraits of his time’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica). It is unusual and perhaps significant that van Dalen here takes credit for an image with his full name and ‘junior’. More usually he signs his work with his initials, as does his father of the same name and their work is therefore mostly indistinguishable.
This portrait was probably commissioned by Sylvius himself on being appointed professor at Leyden university in 1658. Sylvius had a large collection of paintings, analysed by Pamela H. Smith in relation to his role in shaping and institutionalising the practices of the ‘new philosophy’. Sylvius’ taste in art, she argues, reveals an uncertainty about the status of knowledge gained through the senses. Smith reproduces this portrait, as well as a painting of 1672 by Frans van Mieris of Sylvius and his second wife playing the lute. (‘Science and Taste; painting, passions, and the new philosophy in seventeenth-century Leiden’, Isis 90 (1999) 421–461).