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Paulus Pontius
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A reproductive engraver in 17thy-century Antwerp, Paulus Pontius is best known for his engravings after the works of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641). He was baptized on March 31, 1603, the son of a cooper. Pontius became the pupil of the Antwerp painter Osias Beert the Elder (ca. 1580-1624) in 1616. At some point he learned engraving from Lucas Vorsterman the Elder (1595-1675), perhaps in the workshop Rubens created to make prints after his paintings, where Vorsterman worked. Pontius apparently became a talented engraver fairly quickly, for when Vorsterman quarreled with Rubens in 1622 and left Rubens’ employ, Pontius soon became the principal engraver in the workshop. Pontius’ early skill is shown in two engravings from 1624, an Assumption of the Virgin (Holl. 26) and a Susanna and the Elders (Holl. 1). He lived with Rubens until 1631. Pontius entered the Antwerp chapter of the artists’ Guild of St. Luke in the Guild’s year 1626-1627 as a master, and took on his first student, Frans van den Wijngaerde (1608-1679), the following Guild year. Sometime during the 1620s he and Catharina van Eck had a son; scholars differ as to whether they were married. In 1630 Pontius married Christine Herselin; they had two sons and three daughters. They soon moved into a house she inherited from her father, probably in 1631. Pontius worked with Rubens until the master’s death in 1640, and continued to engrave works after Rubens thereafter. He made some forty prints after Rubens, as well as reproducing a Rubens sketchbook with twenty sheets and a title page. He also created engravings after works by Rubens’ pupil van Dyck in the 1630s, beginning with a portrait of the Flemish painter and architect Balthasar Gerbier d’Ouvilly (1592-1663) done in 1631 (Holl. 79). Pontius engraved thirty-eight portraits for van Dyck’s portrait series, The Iconography and created numerous prints after van Dyck’s religious and allegorical paintings. After Rubens’ death Pontius created prints after a variety of artists, including Dutch and Flemish contemporaries such as Jacob Jordaens the Elder (1593-1678), David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690) and Jan Lievens (1607-1674), and masters from prior centuries, such as Titian (ca. 1488-1576). His wife died in 1647 or 1648 and he married Helene Schryvers in 1649; they had one daughter. He continued to work throughout his life; his last dated engraving is from 1657. One catalog raisonné lists 156 prints by Pontius plus the engravings in the Rubens sketchbook. Another scholar believes that another twenty-seven prints should be added to the list. Pontius was also an art collector. After his death in 1658, the inventory of his estate listed more than forty paintings, a large number of prints by his hand and others and fifty books, including books of prints. (TNB 2/2013) Selected bibliography: Duverger, Erik and Danielle Maufort. “Paulus Pontius,” in Carl Depauw and Ger Luijten. Anthony van Dyck as a printmaker. Exhibition catalog, pp. 381-383. Antwerp: Antwerpen Open, 1999.