Bolswerd, The Netherlands
Schelte Adamsz. Bolswert, a Dutch painter and engraver who worked most of his life in Antwerp, is best known for his reproductive engravings after Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) and Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641). Born in Bolsward in the province of Friesland in northern Holland, he and his older brother Boëtius Adams Bolswart (1580-1633), also a printmaker, relocated to Amsterdam by 1609. He was taught by his older brother, who worked for the publisher Michiel Colyn (active ca. 1609). One of Schelte’s earliest signed prints is a religious scene after the Flemish painter David Vinckboons (1576-ca. 1632). By 1617 Bolswert was working in Antwerp for the large publishing and printing house, Plantin-Moretus, and four years later he and his brother were granted permission to engrave plates and print and sell prints. Bolswert was registered in the artists’ Guild of St. Luke by 1625. He and his brother may have lived in Brussels around 1628, but they returned to Antwerp. He produced more than 345 engravings, some after his own design but most after other artists. About eighty of his works are prints after Rubens, including religions scenes, portraits and landscapes, some of the best reproductive prints after his work. Only four were commissioned by Rubens, with the balance published by Bolswert without Rubens’s participation and many created after his death. Bolswert created several engravings after religions scenes by Van Dyck, and engraved eight portraits for Van Dyck’s portrait series, the Iconography, after Van Dyck’s designs. In 1653, late in life, he engraved a very large print on commission for the City of Ghent, The Entry of Archduke Leopold William into Ghent (Holl. 291) after Erasmus Quellinus II (1607-1678), using four plates to create a print measuring about 3 feet by 4.5 feet. He received the large fee of 2500 guilders for this work. Another notable large format engraving completed in 1653 was Christ on the Cross with St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Sienna (Holl. 21) after Van Dyck, created for the St. Michiel Abbey in Antwerp. A contemporary noted that Bolswert had only one eye, which did not hinder his work. Bolswert died in Antwerp on December 12, 1659. (TNB 5/2012) Selected bibliography: Duverger, Erik and Danielle Maufort. “The Cast for the Production of Van Dyck’s Prints,” in Carl Depauw and Ger Luijten. Anthony van Dyck as a printmaker. Exhibition catalog, p. 367. Antwerp: Antwerpen Open, 1999. Lebeer, Louis. Graphisch werk van Boetius eu Shelderic A Bollswert. Exhibition catalog. Bolsward, The Netherlands: Bolsward Stadhuis, 1951.