Mulier Diepana – from the Theatrum Mulierum and Aula Veneris

Wenzel Hollar (1607-1677)  Mulier Diepana – from the Theatrum Mulierum and Aula Veneris, etching, 1649,[signed and dated in the plate (with the title below and the words Ein Normandische Fraw von Diepen added by Hollar in the plate above]. Reference: Pennington 1874, second state (or possibly third) of 3. In excellent condition, on laid paper with thread margins, 3 5/8 x 2 3/8 inches.

A fine impression.

Hollar’s set of about 105 images of women’s fashions from various countries is one of an even larger group of miniature costumed portraits. The underlying motives for publishing these sets, and even the methods of publishing, are today unclear; there is uncertainty as to the number of separate issues and their dates. It appears that at one time Hollar intended to produce a continuous series of 100 prints, but they were issued in parts over a period of years. The first half is called the Theatrum Mulierum, and these prints have English subtitles; the rest is the Aula Veneris, and this became a continental series (Hollar was probably in Antwerp when they were made). It is not possible to say exactly how many prints were in the Aula Veneris, but it’s about 50. What we can say with assurance is that the portraits, or at least this example, were finely etched, and if the subjects of each portrait were not themselves charming (and in this case, perhaps a smile would help), the etching surely well documented the fashion of the times.