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Crispijn de Passe II
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Crispin de Passe II (or the Younger) was part of a printmaking and publishing dynasty founded by his father, Crispin de Passe the Elder (1564-1637). A draftsman, engraver and print publisher, after being expelled from Antwerp and Aachen for being a Protestant, Crispin the Elder and his wife moved to Cologne in 1589. All five of the de Passe children who reached adulthood were born in Cologne. Only the first, Martha, did not become an artist. Crispin the Younger was born in 1594, followed by his brothers Simon (1595-1647) and Willem (1597/98-1636/37) and sister Magdalena (1600-1638). The Counter-Reformation forced Crispin the Elder to move his family to Utrecht in 1611, bringing copperplates, drawings and printmaking tools. Crispin the Younger had begun signing prints in 1611 in Cologne, soon followed by prints by his siblings. Crispin the Younger attended the Utrecht drawing school founded in 1614 and led by Paulus Moreelse (1571-1638) and Abraham Bloemaert (1566-1651). His first masterpiece, the Hortus Floridus (Garden of Flowers, H. 171), was published in 1614 with text in Dutch and Latin. Designed entirely by him and mostly engraved by him, it illustrated flowers grouped by seasons. An English edition followed the next year. He and his siblings also contributed a variety of religious prints and works on other themes published by their father. The De Passe family expanded internationally soon thereafter; Simon went to London and then to Copenhagen, Crispin the Younger went to Paris in 1618 for eleven years, and Willem followed Simon in London. In Paris Crispin taught young noblemen, created portraits of royalty and nobility, history prints, book title plates and created illustrations for books. Two of the most notable were engravings for an instruction manual for horse-riding, Maneige Royal, 1623, H. 175, written by Antoine de Pluvinel (1555-1620), and Officina arcularia, H. 174, showing examples of expensive furniture in French and Dutch designs, published by his father in 1621. Crispin the Younger probably returned to Utrecht in 1629. The next year his father published the Book of Courtesans (Le miroir des courtisannes de ce temps, H.183) with forty illustrations of women, created by while Crispin II was in Paris. In Utrecht he created two prints celebrating a victory over the Spanish by the Prince of Orange, as well as several portraits of high officials and royalty and book illustrations, and became more involved in running his father’s publishing business. His mother died suddenly in 1635, and his father remarried in early 1636, leading to a dispute with his children over their inheritance. Despite a financial settlement, after his father’s death in March 1637, disputes ensued among the children and their stepmother over the estate. Thanks to the good offices of his brother Simon in Copenhagen, Crispin was one of the Dutch artists selected to make drawings of Danish history for King Christian IV for a projected book of prints that was never completed; at least 29 of Crispin’s drawings for this project survive. Crispin returned from Copenhagen to Utrecht in 1639 and later that year relocated to Amsterdam. He began writing, illustrating and publishing broadsheets and pamphlets regading the continuing war with Spain and political questions. In 1640 he published his Book of Shepherdesses, H. 187, a book of sixty portraits of noblewomen and upperclass ladies all dressed in the costume of a shepardess, all with pseudonyms that did not disguish the portraits of real women. His book of twenty-five portraits of adulterous men and women, The Abuse of Marriage, H. 188, followed in 1641. His most ambitious book was a manual for painters, Della luce d el dipingere et disegnare. Van ‘t Licht der teken en schilderconst (1643-44, H. 191), with reproductions of many famous paintings, was published with texts in Italian, Dutch, French and German. After publication of this book, de Passe’s artistic output slowed, his publishing business ran into financial difficulty, and in 1645 he was confined to a hospital in Delft for mental illness. After returning to Amsterdam the following year, he continued to publish portraits, broadsheets and frontispieces for books, often leaving the engraving to assistants. His political broadsheets often brought adverse reactions from the authorities, and he was arrested for a political broadsheet in 1665. His 1666 conviction brought a sentence of banishment from Holland for 25 years, a sentence that was not carried out, perhaps due to his age and ill health. Financial difficulties continued, and he died a poor man in early 1670. (TNB 8/2012) Selected bibliography: J. Bolten, Method and practice. Dutch and Flemish drawings books 1600-1750, Landau 1985