Deventer, the Netherlands
A Dutch engraver who worked most of his life in England, Robert van Voerst is remembered for his engraved portraits reproducing the works of others, including four plates after Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) for van Dyck’s portrait series The Iconography. Scholars disagree on the date and place of van Voerst’s birth, but it appears most likely that he was born in Deventer in the northern Netherlands, east of Amsterdam, in 1597 and was baptized there on September 8. He learned engraving in the Utrecht studio of Crispijn de Passe the Elder (ca. 1565-1637), probably in 1625-1626. Perhaps at the suggestion of de Passe, Van Voerst went to London in 1627 or 1628 to work as an engraver for the portrait painter Georg Geldorp (?-1665). Geldorp had been born in Cologne to Flemish parents and had come to know the de Passe family in Cologne. Voerst’s first print for Geldorp was a portrait of Robert Bertie, First Earl of Lindsey, in 1627 (Holl. 15). The English publisher William Webb employed van Voerst by 1631, again to engrave portraits. In that year van Voerst received two commissions for portrait engravings from King Charles I (1600-1649), one a masterful double portrait of Charles and Henrietta Maria (1609-1666) after the 1632 painting by van Dyck (1634, Holl. 3). The catalog raisonné contains twenty-nine portrait plates by van Voerst, and twenty-one animal illustrations for a book published by de Passe in 1643. Van Voerst was of such stature that King Charles awarded him an annual pension of £60 plus another £40 annually for house rent in 1635, although he did not hold a formal position as royal engraver. That year his sister’s stepson, the painter Gerard ter Borch the Younger (1617-1681), visited him in London, and made a portrait drawing of him. Van Dyck had in 1634 commissioned van Voerst to make nine portrait plates for The Iconography, but he was able to complete only four, including the well-known portrait of English architect Indigo Jones (Holl. 14) and another after van Dyck’s portrait of him (Holl. 26), before his death of the plague in 1636. (TNB 2/2013) Selected Bibliography: Duverger, Erik and Danielle Maufort. “ Llucas Vorsterman,” in Depauw, Carl and Ger Luijten. Anthony van Dyck as a printmaker, pp. 386-387. Exhibition catalog. Antwerp: Antwerpen Open, 1999. Griffiths, Antony and Robert A. Gerard. The Print in Stuart Britain 1602-1689. Exhibition catalog, pp. 81-87. London: British Museum Press, 1998.