This remarkable collection of engravings show a visual representation of kings and queens, mostly European noblemen, jurists, prelates, authors etc. The high quality images reveal very fine details which enable us to examine the role and significance of these historical figures by closely looking at their attributes, coats of arms and other symbolic items surrounding them. Occasionally, the portraits are accompanied with short texts describing the individual’s titles. This collection could serve as source material for scholars; however as a digital art gallery, it could be fascinating for anyone.
The portraits can be found in 81 books which were published in Latin, French, Italian, Dutch, German and English from the period 1603 – 1826. The books are part of the Library’s old - and antique book collection. Please consult the Bibliography for a full list of titles. The Peace Palace Library is unique in The Netherlands as it is the only library holding some of these publications.
Interestingly, the Portraits Collection comprises engravings of a rare edition of Anselme van Hulle’s Les hommes illustres qui ont vécu dans le XXII. siècle: les principaux potentats, princes, ambassadeurs et plenipotentiaires qui ont assisté aux conferences de Munster et d’Osnabrug avec leurs armes et devises, published in 1717, including the portraits of the principal dignitaries attended to the conferences of Münster and Osnabrück.
The author, Anselme van Hulle (1601-1674/1694), was a highly respected Flemish painter mainly of portraits, and became court painter to the Dutch stadtholder Frederick Henry, Prince of Orange (1584-1647). In 1645, the Prince sent him to Münster in order to establish a large workshop and make portraits of the delegates who participated in the peace negotiations for the Peace of Münster. Van Hulle’s workshop produced many copies of the delegates’ portraits which were often obtained by the delegates themselves and by the local councils of cities in the region where the peace talks were held such as Münster and Osnabrück. The paintings were widely distributed through engravings after the paintings. Van Hulle had reproductions made from his sketches by the leading engravers in Antwerp, such as Paulus Pontius (1603-1658) Conrad Waumans (1619-c. 1681), Cornelius Galle the Younger (1615-1678) and Pieter de Jode the Younger (1606–1674). The engravings were made on copper plates with a size of approximately 30 x 20 cm (Folio format) and printed on large-format paper sheets of up to 41 x 32 cm. As court painter to the Prince of Orange, van Hulle was able to obtain a printing privilege in 1648, and received financial assistance from the city of Münster for his printing project. In 1648, a first edition of the prints was published in Antwerp by Daniel Middeler under the title Celeberrimi legati ad pacificandum Christiani nominis orbem, legati ad Monasterium et Osnabrugas ex omni pene gentium nationumque genera missi. Ad vivum Anselmi v. Hulle penicillo expressi eiusque cura et aere per ingeniores huius aevi sculptores caelo representati. This edition contained about 35 to 37 plates. Van Hulle produced 39 engraving in 1648 and another 43 in 1649. In later years, he continued to make portraits of the participants in the negotiations on the implementation of the Peace of Münster in Nuremberg in 1649 and as an itinerant painter at various German princely courts, the Diet of Regensburg of 1653/1654 and the imperial election in Frankfurt in 1657/1658. Finally, his collection of portrait paintings and engravings had grown to 132. Many pirated editions were made by Dutch publishers. The Strasbourg publisher Peter Aubry also made a series of 94 re-engravings, which appeared in 1650/51 and which are known from anthologies with 86 or 93 sheets. The collection saw three more editions after van Hulle's death between 1696 and 1717. Source: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_van_Hulle>, acquired on 31 March 2015.
The 1717 edition at the Peace Palace Library contains 131 engravings.
The rest of the unique publications of the Peace Palace Library illustrated with portraits of this collection are marked with an asterisk (*) in Bibliography.