Lucas Vorsterman

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Portrait of Lucas Vorsterman, engraving by Anthony van Dyck for his Iconography
Wolfgang William, Count Palatine of Neuburg; engraving by Lucas Vorsterman the Elder after a portrait by Anthony van Dyck
Triumph of Poverty

Lucas Vorsterman (1595–1675) was a Baroque engraver. He worked with the artists Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, as well as for patrons such as Thomas Howard, 21st Earl of Arundel and Charles I of England.


Vorsterman was born in Zaltbommel. Around 1617 or 1618 Vorsterman joined Rubens's workshop and became Rubens's primary engraver for several years. Rubens was a demanding employer of engravers, with a very specific idea of the style he wanted: "As he dismissed engraver after engraver, he drove the best one, Lucas Vorsterman, into a nervous breakdown".[1]

In 1621 a violent dispute arose between Vorsterman and Rubens. It is not clear whether there was a physical altercation between the two men, but the situation was sufficiently serious for Rubens' lawyers to petition the authorities for a protection order, which was granted. The exact causes of the dispute are not known. but it is generally assumed that it had its source in the issue of ownership of the author rights to the prints engraved by Vorsterman on the basis of Rubens' designs. Before the dispute arose, their relationship had ostensibly been good since Rubens had agreed to be godfather to Vorsterman's eldest son Lucas Vorsterman II. The dispute ended the working relationship between the two men.[2]

In 1624 Vorsterman went to England and survived on the patronage of royalty and nobility. He returned to Antwerp in 1630 and was one of the printmakers selected by Van Dyck to engrave plates for the Iconography. He executed twenty two of the original eighty plates.[3] He also worked one more time with Rubens on a printing project in 1638. Vorsterman lost his sight in his old age and he lived in poverty. He lived on the support of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke until his death in 1675.

His pupils include Paulus Pontius, Hans Witdoeck, Jacob Neefs and Marinus Robyn van der Goes. Vosterman's son Lucas Vorsterman II (born in 1624) was trained by his father as an engraver.[4]


  1. ^ A Hyatt Mayor, Prints and People, Metropolitan Museum of Art/Princeton, 1971, no. 427-32, ISBN 0-691-00326-2
  2. ^ Lamster, Mark Master of Shadows: The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens, Random House Incorporated, 2010, pp. 108-110
  3. ^ Lucas Vorsterman (1595-1675) at the Fitzwilliam Museum
  4. ^ Lucas Vorsterman I in the RKD

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