For many years the study of the history of printmaking centered around the cataloguing of the oeuvres of printmakers, focusing at first on the peintre-graveurs, artists who made prints as well as paintings. This is illustrated by the approach adopted in the standard works, from Adam von Bartsch's 21-volume Le peintre-graveur (Vienna 1803-21) to the two Hollstein series. It was only in the final decades of the Hollstein project and in the New Hollstein series, which started publishing in 1993, that there was a more democratic inclusion of professional engravers who worked to designs by other artists. That approach increasingly revealed the prominent part played by the publishers of prints. It was they who invested in the copperplates and paid the engravers, who asked the designers to submit the preliminary drawings (and paid for them), who had printers on their payrolls to pull the editions from the press, and who arranged for the distribution of the prints. Cultural entrepreneurs in the purest sense of the word.

1 The exhibition in the Fondation Custodia galleries (photo © Philip Provily)

   One of the most intriguing print publishers was Hieronymus Cock (1517/18-1570), whose activities were the subject of Timothy A. Riggs's doctoral dissertation back in 1971. It was Cock who encouraged Pieter Bruegel the Elder to become involved in printmaking, and for whom the Italian engraver Giorgio Ghisi came to work in Antwerp for several years. The large stocklist that he built up with his wife Volcxken Diericx, who carried on running their publishing house for 30 years after Cock's death, can rightly be regarded as instrumental in disseminating the art of the Renaissance, not only in the Low Countries but also, honoring the name of their business, to 'The Four Winds'. After exhibitions about Cock in the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels in 1970 (400 years after his death) and in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam in 1988, an initiative developed to make an inventory of the Royal Library's very extensive holdings of prints published by Hieronymus Cock, a project that was entrusted to curator Joris van Grieken under the supervision of Jan van der Stock and myself, then still the head of the Printroom of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In the course of the years of research the idea was born of mounting an exhibition in which a selection of those prints would be displayed alongside the drawn designs, and in a context that would do justice to the entire stock of prints published by Cock and his wife. It was eventually staged in Museum M in Leuven and the Fondation Custodia in Paris (fig. 1). Room was also found in the galleries for the hand-colored prints as well as impressions in red ink and others on blue paper. The loans came from the Royal Library in Brussels supplemented with rare impressions from all over the world. Anthony Griffiths, former Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, said that it was one of the most lavish exhibitions of prints that he had ever seen, and one that left you with a better understanding of the crucial importance of a publisher as the unifying figure between draftsmen, engravers and printers. And that indeed was our intention.1

2 The cover of the exhibition catalogue

The catalogue, which runs to 416 pages, was published in English, French and Dutch in a prize-winning design by Gert Dooreman, and is a permanent record of the event published in English under the title Hieronymus Cock: the Renaissance in print (fig. 2). A workshop was held in Leuven on 5 June 2013 while the exhibition was still in the museum there, followed a few days later by a symposium in the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels. On 18 November 2013, during the Paris venue, there was a workshop alternating with lectures at the Fondation Custodia. Several of the speakers were then asked to turn their papers into articles, and it is those articles that now fill this bumper issue of Simiolus. It does not include the excellent contribution by Edward H. Wouk, which had already been published as "Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle, the Quatre Vents press, and the patronage of prints in Early Modern Europe" in Simiolus 38 (2015-2016), pp. 31-61. The essay by Bert Tuin about a number of fascinating archival discoveries that shed new light on the life of Volcxken Diericx did not originate in those gatherings. Peter Fuhring's contribution on Joannes Galle's stocklist reveals how part of the stock of The Four Winds was still being published in the seventeenth century by the descendants of Philips Galle, who had himself worked for Hieronymus Cock. The author was given access to the sole surviving example of that list, which is here published and annotated in full for the first time. On behalf of the other organizers of the exhibition and colloquia, Joris van Grieken, curator at the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels, and Jan van der Stock, professor and coordinator at the Illuminare Centre for the Study of Medieval Art, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, I would like to thank the authors for their efforts and the editors of Simiolus for their willingness to publish the articles in this issue, which is appearing in this munificent form thanks to a special financial contribution from the Fondation Custodia.

ger luijten
fondation custodia
frits lugt collection


   1  G. Luijten, J. van Grieken and J. van der Stock, "Challenging talent and letting it grow: Aux Quatre Vents, 1548-1600," in Hieronymus Cock: the Renaissance in print, Leuven (M-Museum Leuven), Paris (Fondation Custodia) & Brussels 2013, p. 11: "It cannot be denied that art is inspired by genius, but there have also been, over and over again, men and women who have challenged genius to higher things, enabled it to flourish and shared it with many others. Aux Quatre Vents in a nutshell."

For some of the reviews see N.M. Orenstein, "Hieronymus Cock, Leuven and Paris," The Burlington Magazine 115 (2013), pp. 573-75; E.J. Peters, "Hieronymus Cock's Aux Quatre Vents," Print Quarterly 31 (2014), pp. 219-23, and S. Kossmann in Journal für Kunstgeschichte 18 (2014), pp. 31-35. See also I. Buchanan, "'The Four Winds': the house of the Antwerp print publisher Hieronymus Cock," The Burlington Magazine 158 (February 2016), pp. 87-93.